Train operator LNER is having to re-record onboard announcements after Scottish passengers complained that hearing stations mispronounced was like “nails on a blackboard”.
Travellers have vented their frustration at the firm on social media for pronouncing Kirkcaldy with an “l” and Kingussie as “King-goosey” rather than “King-youssie”.
The errors were made when pre-recorded announcements were introduced on the York-based firm’s new Azuma fleet, which took over services to Aberdeen in November and Inverness last month.
Train managers previously announced the stations on the older trains.
Regular passenger Fraser Mackenzie said: “The ticket inspector has just confirmed they will be re-recording the destination announcement messages on both the Inverness-London and Aberdeen-London routes after various complaints about mispronunciations – so it’s not just ‘King-goosey’ which has been mangled.
“They say it four times before departure from Inverness, once just afterwards, then again after Aviemore and yet again just before Kingussie.
“The mispronunciation is like nails on a blackboard for most of LNER’s Scottish travellers and is an easy fix.
“The staff member on the trolley was listening to my conversation with the ticket inspector and said ‘it does your head in’.”
Fellow passenger Eilidh Murray was equally unimpressed with how Kirkcaldy was pronounced.
She tweeted: “They are announcing it phonetically! It’s a recording, which is worse. I’d let a person off for getting it wrong, but someone must have approved this.”
ScotRail had to change its announcements for Stow after the Borders Railway opened in 2015 because the station was wrongly pronounced “Stoh” like the English town.
Rob Shorthouse, the operator’s then communications director, said: “It was a bad mistake and we are just really embarrassed.” It’s one of those things that drives us mad that we got that wrong.”
A place name origins expert said some Scottish places were particularly hard to pronounce.
Carole Hough, professor of onomastics at the University of Glasgow, said: “Scottish place names do have an extra layer of difficulty as they come from an unusually wide range of languages, including Celtic languages (Brittonic, Gaelic, Pictish) and Germanic languages (Old English, Old Norse, Scots), each with differing pronunciation systems.
“Stress can be a particular issue, as place names from the Celtic languages tend to be stressed towards the end, and place names from the Germanic languages tend to be stressed towards the beginning.
“Other tricky Scottish place names include Culross (initial stress despite being from Gaelic, silent ‘l’) and Kirkcudbright (stressed on the middle syllable, final syllable ‘bree’).”
An LNER spokesperson said: “We take great pride in the routes and communities we serve, and have taken onboard customer feedback about station announcements.
“Our onboard information systems will be updated soon, when we’ll ensure all stations are recorded correctly.”