February 16, 2021

Talking trams improve accessibility for visually impaired passengers

What if train operating companies could find the ultimate balance between crystal-clear announcements and residential noise reduction?

This is not a pipe dream anymore. Find out how, in Erfurt, electromagnetic exciters help trams to announce their line number, destination and stops in an optimal, targeted way.

What are talking trams?

Talking trams use an innovative acoustic announcement system where the external skin of the vehicle acts as a flat-panel loudspeaker. Electromagnetic exciters are built into the side walls of trams or buses and transmit vibrations to the outer skin of the vehicle. In that way, trams can easily announce line numbers, stops, and destinations.

As opposed to external speakers, the sound quality of electromagnetic exciters is significantly better and can therefore be more targeted. Moreover, the environment is unaffected by noise pollution thanks to the noise-dependent volume control and the intelligent night-time reduction of the volume.

Exciting features

  • Regional-specific pronunciation features can be achieved through individual adaptation and storage in an exception library
  • The system can be expanded thanks to a powerful processor and M12 Ethernet connection (e.g. control by IBIS VDV301 (IBIS over Ethernet))
  • Noise-dependent volume control and intelligent lowering of volume at night avoids noise pollution.

The talking trams were created in collaboration with the Erfurt Blind Association, the Erfurt transport company and the Erfurt University of Applied Sciences.

Erfurter Verkehrsbetriebe - "speaking tram" Erfurter Verkehrsbetriebe uses talking trams to lower barriers for visually impaired passengers waiting at stops (Combino/Siemens and existing vehicles MGT6D/Duewag) Picture © Erfurter Verkehrsbetriebe

Why do you need talking trams?

Speech intelligibility

The electromagnetic exciters create a broad, almost phase-linear reproduction over 7 octaves <100 Hz to> 10 kHz without disturbing resonance effects. This particularly guarantees high quality speech reproduction. The noise-dependent volume control (NDVC + max 12dB) enables the volume of the external announcements to be adapted to the ambient noise and thus increases the intelligibility of the announcement.


There is a sharp drop in sound pressure level outside the bus stop area thanks to the type and placement of the exciters, the noise-dependent volume control (NDVC + max 12dB) and the volume night reduction (max 12 dB).

Future-proof system

The existing power reserves make it possible to integrate other functionalities, such as an on-board computer for passenger information, an automatic passenger counting (APC) system, video surveillance, etc. This reduces costs and space.

Talking trams are useful for…

  • Passengers in general, and more specifically, visually impaired people
  • Operators that focus on noise reduction, accessibility and passenger comfort
  • Passenger Information managers who want to make their messages more targeted and efficient
sound pressure field The exciters are mounted in such a way that they create an almost homogeneous sound pressure field oriented parallel to the vehicle with the minimum possible distance between the source and receiver.


  • On-board computer that could optionally take on another function (passenger information, passenger counting, etc.)
  • On-board amplifier
  • Special flat speakers

> Find out more

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