When you follow a search for Kings Cross on twitter you get all sorts of things – party people in Kings Cross Sydney Australia, people heading for Water Rats, trying to find Kings Place, arranging to meet at Nandos, berating the railways, even the odd sex worker. This tweet made me think a minute:
@wixy699 I miss the ticky tacky departure board in kings cross 😦
Nick as @wixy699 is known is talking about what Wikipedia tells me is called a ‘split flap display‘ or a Solari Board, after the Italian manufacturers, that made a comforting noise when they changed. There’s a nostalgic video with sound of one in Newark NJ below:
The new Kings Cross concourse in the glass blister will have the functional but anodyne orange LED display boards. The big problem with these is that they are silent – you never know when something has changed so you have to keep a close eye on them. At Paddington in particular there are crowds of people standing motionless staring at the boards – in the chaos of the evening rush hour you dare not miss a beat as the trains are posted late and leave within a minute or two. The old Solari boards though gave you an audio clue of when to turn and look.
Kings Cross has a particular problem with trains turning around so fast they are hard to catch. The new boarding arrangements will make it a long hike to platforms 2,1 and 0 and there will be some of the Clapham Junction stampede as passengers herd frantically over the bridge. I wonder if Network Rail could add the gentle ‘ticky tacky’ sound of the departure boards changing over the PA? It would also allow people to spend more time in shops and restaurants – rather than milling in the concourse staring at screens.