Wales: Train announcements ‘should be in English’

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed Jul 18 13:58:15 UTC 2007

*Train announcements 'should be in English'*

Jul 18 2007


by Tomos Livingstone, Western Mail

  SENIOR Labour MPs last night called for the uniform practice of making
railway announcements in Welsh first to be scrapped. Announcements should be
made in English first in towns and cities where the number of Welsh-speakers
is low, the MPs said. Seven Welsh backbenchers, led by Rhondda MP Chris
Bryant, have signed a House of Commons motion calling for the change in

It marks another shot across the bows of the Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition in
the Assembly, which is looking at ways of strengthening the Welsh Language
Act. Many Labour MPs opposed the coalition deal, but their intervention on
language policy is a sign that they will continue to make life uncomfortable
for the new administration. Plaid dismissed Mr Bryant's idea as "unworkable"
and "ludicrous".

At present train stations give announcements in Welsh first, before
repeating them in English. Mr Bryant said this was "a source of constant
irritation". "Lots of people mention it to me in the Rhondda," he said. "If
they do the whole announcement in Welsh first it takes forever, and the
train has left." Which language comes first should depend on which part of
Wales the station is in, he suggested.

His motion is backed by two former Secretaries of State for Wales, Alun
Michael and Paul Murphy. Former Wales Office Ministers Nick Ainger and Don
Touhig have also given their support, together with Ann Clwyd and Ian Lucas.
Mr Bryant added, "If you're in Cardiff on a matchday, and there are
thousands of people there, it seems bizarre to do the announcement in Welsh
first when half the people don't understand what is being said." He said he
was untroubled by the potentially divisive nature of his suggestion.

"I don't care, I just think we should have a sensible policy. We should put
announcements in the most appropriate language first, a common sense rather
than dogmatic approach," he said. The motion makes clear that the MPs are
not against the general principle of bilingual announcements.

But Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams said the idea of a change of policy was
not practical.

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