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Metro officials to pick up British accent

If you come across a Delhi Metro official greeting you in English with a clipped British accent, don't be surprised! It's probably a newly acquired skill ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

delhi Updated: May 14, 2010 15:54 IST

If you come across a Delhi Metro official greeting you in English with a clipped British accent, don't be surprised! It's probably a newly acquired skill ahead of the Commonwealth Games.

The Metro staff is being trained in the English language for the October 3-14 mega event that will bring in hordes of foreign visitors. And it will involve getting the pronunciation and accent right too.

"Around 2,000 Delhi Metro staff members are being trained in the English language. The focus is particularly on pronunciation skills as they have to deal with international visitors," Mohinder Yadav, public relations officer of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), told IANS.

The Metro will play a vital role during the Games as it provides connectivity to 10 out of 11 venues for the event. The Games Village, where most of the athletes will reside, is adjacent to the Akshardham Metro station.

"The staff is being asked to converse in English in the British accent. They should also put on their best behaviour during the Games, courteously and politely dealing with the international visitors," Yadav said.

Special training is being given to customer relations assistants, station controllers and train operators in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation skills as they would directly deal with foreign visitors.

"The Delhi Metro is bearing the cost of training. The staff is being trained at a training school of Delhi Metro in Shastri Park in east Delhi," Yadav added.

Alka Gupta, the training team's head from The British Academy For English Language (BAFEL), said: "BAFEL trains the Metro staff in pronunciation skills, grammar and vocabulary. The six-month training in connection with the Games has improved their skills tremendously."

"The mother tongue influence which is true of most employees, particularly from Bihar, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, needs to be removed," she stressed.

"After training them in audio-visual activities, voice and accent training, and grammar classes, their English skills, particularly pronunciation, has improved immensely. Most of the employees can now speak English with a British accent. The training will end by September," Gupta added.

The Metro Citizens' Forum - a group of volunteers - will play a major role during the Games as they will help the DMRC instil good behaviour and discipline among commuters.

"There are 400 volunteers as of now and we want to increase the number to 1,000 by September. From school students to retired senior citizens - anyone who has the urge to showcase himself as a responsible citizen - can enrol in this volunteer programme," Yadav said.

The Metro will provide a cap or badge to the volunteers. The duty of a volunteer will extend to not more than three hours a day.

"To make Delhi Metro accessible, the Metro feeder bus service will be improved. As of now 400 buses are plying. We will add 100 more buses so that visitors for the Games can easily reach the Metro stations," the spokesman said.

The Delhi Metro is also planning to have new signboards that will indicate the nearest tourist spots and hotels at exit and entry points of major Metro stations.

"The signboards will be placed in some of the prominent stations like Central Secretariat, Patel Chowk, Tughlaqabad and Jahangirpuri by September. Pamphlets carrying detailed information about each location and tourist spot will be made available in every Metro station," Yadav said.

About one million commuters use the Metro on weekdays. During the Games, about two million commuters are expected to use the Metro on weekdays.