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To: Great Western Railway (GWR), Welsh Language Commissioner
GWR should provide Welsh on their signage and in their announcements
We want to see Welsh given equal status with English in the private sector, as much as in the public sector. Welsh services should be provided by companies operating in Wales. GWR should provide Welsh signage and announcements on its services operating in Wales, even if those services also originate or terminate in England.
Why is this important?
Under the terms of the Welsh Language Measure 2011, Welsh people understood that train companies were going to provide Welsh language services. This was a clear message during the campaigning and information disseminated to help Welsh people understand their linguistic rights. Whether Welsh-speaking or not, the majority of Welsh people welcomed and celebrated the extension of the legal status of Welsh into the private sector.
Over recent years, Welsh people have received news on several occasions of the increased efforts to promote and protect the Welsh language, such as the 1 million speakers by 2050. As a result, the news that GWR will not be providing a Welsh language service is disappointing. It sends a statement that they do not understand or care about their customer service provision in Wales. The Welsh Government's inability to enforce the status of Welsh in the private sector also sends a message of no confidence in the Welsh Language Measure 2011, and other legal frameworks to ensure the linguistic rights of Welsh-speakers.
Where train companies operate through two or more areas where different languages are spoken, there is an expected provision of services in those languages, e.g. Eurostar, VIA Rail Canada, SNCF TGV Paris-Milan (France/Italy). In light of bilingual services provided elsewhere in the world on board train services, any official statements that 'operating in England invalidates the provision of a Welsh language service' should be considered ignorant of both cultural and business practices.
Wales is a bilingual country. GWR must respect that.