Is this a final farewell for the women behind Swiss train announcements?

The Local
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Is this a final farewell for the women behind Swiss train announcements?
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Everybody who has ever spent any time in Switzerland knows the sound: first a cathedral-like three-part chime and then a woman announcing a train or bus route.


To many regular commuters, the calm, slow and slightly otherworldly voices of the national rail company, the SBB/CCF, are as much a part of Swiss soundscape as church or cow bells.

The four women behind the announcements – one for each of the national languages – spend months recording a total of 10,000 separate pieces of text, which are then stitched together to create what people hear on station platforms around the country.

This is why the SBB announcements often sound stilted and or just plain odd.

Now though, after 15 years, the SBB is looking at modernising its announcement system, Swiss regional daily the Aargauer Zeitung reports.

The rail company is set to pilot an automated system which would see fully updated and customized data about the rail network converted into speech.

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It’s not clear whether onboard train staff would continue to wish passengers a good morning or apologise for delays under the planned new system. The fate of the current crop of SBB voices is also unclear.

But one thing is clear: if a pilot project set for spring 2019 is successful, any new voice of the SBB will remain a woman.

“The reason the speakers are women is psychological. Studies show that female pitches come across as more likeable. And that’s true for both sexes,” said the SBB in a 2013 blog entry.


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