Rail firm un­der fire over Welsh lan­guage equal­ity

South Wales Echo - - News - MAR­TIN SHIPTON Chief Re­porter mar­tin.shipton@waleson­line.co.uk

THE com­pany run­ning Wales’ new rail fran­chise is op­er­at­ing in breach of its le­gal obli­ga­tion to pro­vide Welsh lan­guage ser­vices, ac­cord­ing to cam­paign­ers.

Cymdei­thas yr Iaith, the Welsh Lan­guage So­ci­ety, has com­plained to Welsh Lan­guage Com­mis­sioner Meri Huws, who is con­sid­er­ing whether to launch a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

To­day mem­bers of the so­ci­ety will stage a protest out­side the of­fices of Trans­port for Wales in the cen­tre of Cardiff.

The com­plaints in­clude the fact that the com­pany has an English-only ticket web­site, English-only an­nounce­ments on the trains, a new ticket app in English only and self-ser­vice ma­chines that don’t func­tion prop­erly in Welsh.

Ac­cord­ing to the Welsh Lan­guage Com­mis­sioner, Ke­o­lis Amey, the con­sor­tium that runs Trans­port for Wales, should have been com­ply­ing with le­gal Welsh Lan­guage Stan­dards from the day they took over the ser­vice last month.

Speak­ing ahead of the protest David Wil­liams, from Cymdei­thas yr Iaith, said: “The fail­ings of the new train com­pany are so bad in re­spect of Welsh lan­guage pro­vi­sion that it is al­most un­prece­dented for a pub­lic ser­vice.

“We’re aware of a large num­ber of wide-rang­ing com­plaints about ser­vices that are not avail­able in Welsh or that treat the Welsh lan­guage less favourably than English.

“Due to the se­ri­ous­ness of the sit­u­a­tion, we have asked the Welsh Lan­guage Com­mis­sioner to use her ex­ten­sive pow­ers to un­der­take a gen­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“It is a great dis­ap­point­ment that the Welsh Gov­ern­ment, Trans­port for Wales and the com­pany that is un­der con­tract to them have failed to en­sure that th­ese ser­vices are in place, de­spite hav­ing suf­fi­cient time to do so be­fore the new con­tract started.

“They should have made plans to en­sure th­ese ser­vices were pro­vided prop­erly.”

Trans­port for Wales tried to get the ac­tivists to call off to­day’s protest and hold a meet­ing, but Cymdei­thas yr Iaith said: “Although we would be pleased if you could ar­range a meet­ing with the se­nior of­fi­cers of the com­pany with us, it’s dif­fi­cult to see a pur­pose for such a meet­ing given that the com­pany is not com­pli­ant with a set of le­gal reg­u­la­tions at the mo­ment.”

Colin Lea, Com­mer­cial and Cus­tomer Ex­pe­ri­ence Di­rec­tor, said: “We have ex­cit­ing plans at Trans­port for Wales to trans­form trans­port for com­ing gen­er­a­tions, and this in­cludes an am­bi­tious plan to im­prove bilin­gual ser­vices for our cus­tomers.

“We want to cre­ate an open di­a­logue with all of our cus­tomers and stake­hold­ers.

“Hav­ing been made aware of a planned ac­tiv­ity by Cymdei­thas yr Iaith, we in­vited them to meet with us to dis­cuss their con­cerns in per­son in ad­vance of any ac­tion.

“We re­main ready and open to en­ter into a con­struc­tive di­a­logue with them when they are ready to do so, and by no means seek to deny any­one their demo­cratic right to protest.”

A spokes­woman for the Welsh Lan­guage Com­mis­sioner said: “Trans­port for Wales was es­tab­lished to un­der­take ac­tiv­i­ties on be­half of Welsh Min­is­ters and by do­ing so, they are sub­ject to the Gov­ern­ment’s Welsh Lan­guage Stan­dards.

“We can con­firm that we have re­ceived com­plaints about Trans­port for Wales’ Welsh ser­vice.

“We are in the process of as­sess­ing the facts, be­fore we de­cide whether to in­ves­ti­gate.”

ERYL CRUMP

Mem­bers of Welsh lan­guage so­ci­ety Cymdei­thas yr Iaith are protest­ing in the cap­i­tal to­day over Ke­o­lis Amey’s Welsh lan­guage pro­vi­sions

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