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Caltrain to replace speaker systems at stations

Caltrain riders could soon get some welcome relief from the muffled, garbled recorded messages that often play inside train stations.
Caltrain riders will soon get some welcome relief from the muffled, garbled recorded messages that often play inside train stations.

From the clanging bells to the roar of the locomotive and the screeching of brakes, there's one sound that Caltrain passengers might have missed.

With trains crossing in both directions and commuters shuffling to and fro, the sound from the single loudspeaker is easily drowned out -- sometimes by a jet taking off overhead.

"It's just kind of broken up. You can't really hear it," Caltrain rider Lucas Heredia said. "I don't even know what time the train's coming sometimes."

Caltrain spokesperson Jayme Ackemann said there's nothing wrong with the recordings. "I think the voice is lovely. Once they are able to hear them, they'll really enjoy it," she said.

Caltrain is setting out to replace the archaic speaker system that's meant to bring riders vital information.

"Most importantly to let people know when we are experiencing service-related delays so they have an idea of what to expect," Ackemann said.

The fixes won't come cheap -- a little over $1.6 million. That's because in some cases, speakers are the least of the problems. Some stations don't even have electricity.

The lone speakers at South San Francisco, San Jose, Sunnyvale and 22nd St. are being replaced.

Caltrain will minimize echoes by rigging up multiple speakers. They are already working at night to install wiring.

The project will take six months to complete.
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