More than a third of all British women who travel by rail are likely to be assaulted during their journey, new figures commissioned by the British Transport Police (BTP) reveal.
BTP data also shows that most attacks occur during the evening rush hour, when trains are full and busy.
Unacceptable behavior such as tapping, touching, stepping, climbing or indecent exposure is experienced by women more than ever, with 51% of female victims stating that other train passengers intervened to try and help.
However, only one in five people who have witnessed incidents of sexual harassment report it to the police.
BTP Detective Chief Constable Paul Furnell urged the community to look out and stand up for each other while catching the train or tube.
“I'll guarantee that most of us have told our daughters, mums or girlfriends to be careful on the way home when traveling alone late at night – perhaps to share their journeys and stay in well-lit areas,” he said.
“But we know that sexual harassment and assault can take place at any time of the day, and our evidence shows that it is more likely to happen during the busiest times when the carriages are more full.
“That means we all have a role to play in getting our heads out of our phones or newspapers and being aware of what's going on around us – and if we see something that's not right, do something about it, whether it's to intervene if you feel safe to do so or to report it to the police.'
Mr Furnell urged members of the public to report incidents of sexual harassment, whether they have experienced or witnessed it, to the police.
“Putting down this unacceptable behavior is our number one priority at British Transport Police,” he said, adding: “We will always believe you and take you seriously.”
BTP research shows that train passengers look out for each other. However, officials urge the public to report incidents of sexual harassment to the police so that perpetrators are held accountable.
Rail Delivery Group chief executive Jacqueline Starr revealed the industry is working with BTP to stamp out sexual harassment on trains.
“The latest data shows that harassment doesn't just happen out of sight,” Ms Starr said.
“Experiences of sexual harassment are unfortunately a reality for many women, but as an industry, our message is clear: any form of sexual harassment on the rail network is completely unacceptable and we are working with British Transport Police to tackle this problem. “
Special teams of plainclothes British transport officers use data provided by the public to target patrols and track down offenders.
On trains, the rail industry and BTP are developing a new, ongoing anti-sexual harassment campaign to educate passengers on how to recognize sexual harassment situations, how to intervene safely and how to report perpetrators to protect all passengers from harassment. commuting to work, home or wherever their destination may be.