Protests plan at rail stations over lack of services in Welsh
WELSH language campaigners will be holding a series of pickets across the country today against new train service provider Transport for Wales due to the lack of services available in Welsh.
Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg has received a large number of complaints about the franchise holder, including some about the English-only ticket website, English-only announcements on 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 company that runs the new franchise, should have been complying with the Welsh language standards from the first day it took over the service in October last year.
The pickets will take place at six train stations: Cardiff Central, Swansea, Carmarthen, Aberystwyth, Machynlleth and Bangor.
David Williams, of 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.”
Colin Lea, Transport for Wales commercial and customer experience director, said: “We are fully committed to the Welsh language and to providing services within Wales bilingually.
“We have an agreed and funded plan over the next 12 months to roll out more and better Welsh language provision for the benefit of our customers.
“We completely agree that our customers should be able to book their tickets in the Welsh language, so we are working with industry partners to find an answer where the technology and systems haven’t caught up.
“Currently, our website and app, including the online train booking facility provided by trainline, use critical data provided from a range of GB wide rail industry systems.
“At this stage, this data is only interpreted in the English language...
“Please bear with us while we do our very best to put accurate Welsh language functionality in place as soon possible.”