A digitalised voice of the famous actress can soon be heard at stations throughout Austria

Austrian National Railways (OEBB) are equipping all their announcement systems with high-quality text-to-speech technology developed by the German Aristech GmbH (www.aristech.de/en).  Aristech has digitalised Chris Lohner’s famous voice in both German and English, ensuring that it can be heard at Austrian stations in the future.

Is it Chris Lohner herself or the digital version of her voice? Users in forums for railway enthusiasts are uncertain but impressed at the same time. After the implementation of the digital voice on Austrian train stations, the real and the computer generated voice can hardly be distinguished.  “It’s exactly how we wanted it to be,” says Michael Mende, CTO of Aristech. “In the best case, passengers don’t even notice the difference. Because we’ve focussed on the individual requirements of OEBB, we were able to get very close to the pleasant sound of Miss Lohner’s natural voice.”

Using sophisticated software technology, a digital voice was created from studio recordings of Chris Lohner, which is now being used for text-to-speech (TTS) Systems in German and English. These systems convert written text into an audible output, which is spoken by Chris Lohner’s digital voice. Changes and adaptions can be realised with a mouse click – an important criterion for up-to-the-minute announcements.

“For our customers, rail travels start on the platform: Chris Lohner’s digital voice welcomes our passengers in a friendly, pleasant and distinctive way. We put our trust in these future-proof technologies and align our railways tracks towards the digital future,” says OEBB Chief Information Architect Michael Nahler. “With Aristech, we’ve found a company that has convinced us again and again with their flexibility and experience. Realising a project like this is only possible if we can rely on such expertise. The positive feedback from our customers only confirms us in our decision.”

The digital voice has recently gone online at Vienna Main station and Vienna Airport and will be implemented at another 30 stations this year. OEBB is planning on gradually replacing old announcement systems on platforms, in busses, trains and even in call centres with the new Aristech TTS systems. The use of this innovative technology provides OEBB with modern flexibility and long-term cost reductions.

OEBB: Austria’s biggest mobility services provider

Every year, OEBB provides environmentally friendly transport for 469 million passengers and 109.3 million tons of goods. 92% of the needed electricity comes from renewable energy sources, hydropower makes up 90%. In 2014, OEBB was one of the most punctual railway services providers in Europe with 96.7% of on-time services. 39,513 employees (and an additional 1,761 trainees) make sure that roughly 1.3 million daily passengers arrive safely at their destination. The strategic leader company of the group is ÖBB-Holding AG.