Train of Hope moves on from Hauptbahnhof

Train of Hope moves on from Hauptbahnhof
The group's donation centre at the back of Hauptbahnhof. Photo: Train of Hope
Train of Hope, a volunteer group that formed to help refugees arriving in Austria from Syria and other countries, is dismantling its centre at Vienna’s Hauptbahnhof railway station as refugees are no longer arriving there in such huge numbers.

Since early September around 200 volunteers have staffed a 24 operation to help refugees arriving at the main station. As temperatures get colder and with many countries tightening border controls, fewer refugees are arriving in Vienna.

“We want to help where we are most needed, and this is no longer the case at the main railway station,” Train of Hope spokeswoman Martina Barwitzki said. The focus has now shifted to helping refugees who are currently housed in transit quarters and emergency accommodation.

Train of Hope volunteers are now busy making an inventory of all the donations they have in stock, and will store them for future need. Currently, they are not accepting any further donations. Anyone who has loaned items to the group can pick them up from the Hauptbahnhof.

The group said it plans to hold a series of workshops to decide on how it can help “welcome” refugees in Vienna, with ideas such as a housing project, a jobs board and finding people willing to hold German classes up for discussion. It is still looking for office space in Vienna.

On Friday, Train of Hope will be awarded a Human Rights Award from the Austrian League for Human Rights.

Austria expects a record 95,000 asylum claims this year. The flow of refugees and migrants has slowed significantly in recent weeks due to poor weather making crossing the Mediterranean more difficult and a Turkish crackdown on people smugglers, according to the UN refugee agency.