Protests plan at rail sta­tions over lack of ser­vices in Welsh

South Wales Echo - - News - MARTIN SHIPTON Chief Re­porter [email protected]­

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.”

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