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In a flap Traditional train departure boards to be replaced

The split-flap departure board is a prominent feature in the major hall of Zurich's main station 

(Keystone/Eddy Risch)

For many people the classic sound of tiles whirling round on a train departure board at the railway station is as much a part of taking a trip as climbing on board the train itself. The Swiss Federal Railways however, are preparing to replace these boards with modern LED screens.

A test-run of the new screens began at Neuchâtel railway station on Friday. It is the first location in the country to have an LED screen as the main departure board, instead of the traditional split-flap display – where small tiles with interchangeable letters and numbers spin round to show different platforms, times and destinations.

Neuchâtel’s departure board was made in 1988 and is one of the oldest in the country.

Its operators describe it as technically outdated and say it is time consuming to wait for the display to change.

The new screen comes as part of a pair – while one shows train times, the other will show adverts. It will also be used for customer announcements in case of travel disruption. 

Over the next few months, operational tests will be run and the colours and contrast levels will be optimised.

The Federal Railways says the pilot will run until the end of February 2015, and that they are hoping for feedback from their customers which will be taken into consideration for the further rollout of the replacements.

By the time the annual timetable changes come into effect in December 2015, numerous other stations around the country should be fitted with the LED screens.

Those stations include Aarau, Basel, Bern, Biel, Brig, Chur, Fribourg, Geneva, Geneva airport, Lausanne, Lucerne, St Gallen, Winterthur, Zurich and Zug. and agencies

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