Railway bosses sparked fury last night after it emerged Network Rail engineers must learn German phrases to read instructions on safety kit.
The new high-tech equipment, made in Germany, is used to spot dangerous faults on the railways.
Workers must learn phrases such as verbindungsausfall (connection failure) and even abreviated forms such as kdo abgew azgr anford grund betrieblich (reset requested but not carried out due to section being clear). They must resit a test if scoring below 50 percent.
The move has been attacked by rail staff and unions who say safety instructions should be in English. One Kent-based engineer said: "This is cost-cutting.
Sitting a German exam is not an efficient way of acquainting staff with essential kit and procedures."
Bob Crow, general secretary of rail union RMT, said, "It is extraordinary German companies can't be bothered to translate their safety instructions."
Network Rail said, "We appreciate this is a difficult course and we're looking at ways to make it easier to learn."
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