Language protest stops train

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Tue Feb 1 14:52:16 UTC 2005

Language protest stops train Jan 31 2005

Catrin Pascoe, Western Mail

WELSH language protesters hi-jacked a train, filling it with members and
refusing to pay for their tickets. Pressure group Cymuned pulled off the
weekend stunt in protest at the lack of Welsh spoken on Arriva's trains
and buses. The 20 protesters boarded a Holyhead to Crewe train at Bangor
at lunchtime on Saturday, effectively taking over a carriage and refusing
to pay when ticket collectors arrived.

The stunt led to a 20-minute delay for passengers at Llandudno Junction
while the conductor - ironically a Welsh speaker - attempted to deal with
them. Cymuned accuse Arriva Train Wales of being "colonists". But the
train company said it was disappointed by the group's actions and insisted
the firm had a strong bilingual policy.

The hi-jack began at noon, when protesters brandishing "No Colonisation"
placards boarded the train at Bangor station. Meirion Llywelyn, who
organised the action, said, "We've done this today to draw everyone's
attention to the scornfully dismissive attitude Arriva take towards

"It's time for them to stop behaving like colonists and start to realise
their services run through the heart of the Fro Gymraeg, the only place in
the world where Cymraeg is a living community language." The group is
demanding Arriva only employ local, Welsh-speaking people, and has vowed
to step up protests if the company refuses to comply. But a spokesman for
Arriva Trains Wales said the company already had a Welsh language policy
and the protesters had caused delays for other travellers.

He said, "We're extremely disappointed they've decided to do what they
did. "We are committed to providing Welsh language services on all our
trains.  Timetables are available in English and Welsh, as are the vast
majority of our publications, and the conductor on the train they were on
also spoke Welsh. "We'd prefer they'd discuss their concerns with us
rather than attempting to delay our trains."

The company would not be taking action against the fare- dodgers, he
added. But Aran Jones, Cymuned's chief executive, dismissed the company's
language policies and threatened more protests. "Cymraeg is a cultural and
economic asset, and it is appalling Arriva offer such a remarkably poor
service on their website, on their help lines, and worst of all on their
buses and trains."

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