How tech changed face of rly indicators

Since the slate-and chalk era, indicators on platforms of Western Railway stations have gone through a series of evolution till it arrived at the hi-tech LCD age.

The new generation indicators, meant to show passengers the details of an arriving train, not only have a sleek look but are also big power-savers. Though they are not inexpensive—a single-line indicator costs Rs 1.35 lakh and a multi-line one Rs 2 lakh—officials feel that the change will be better, as the new technology provides flexibility in displaying information and the texts can be read from afar.

Chief PRO of WR Sharat Chandrayan said, “We have installed LCD-based multiline indicators at Bandra and Dadar. They are on trial run and once it prove to be successful, we will take them to other stations.”

With evolving technology, indicators have also kept pace over the time. Chandrayan said, “At the beginning, when there were only a few trains, the railways made use of chalk-and-board to inform commuters about the arrival and departure times.”

As the network expanded and number of services went up, the authorities brought in “painted boards”. “They were operated manually and a person was deployed to change the wooden panels that showed the destinations and timings,” Chandrayan said. “This cumbersome process and was dependent on the availability of manpower.”

The painted boards stayed till 1986, when it made way to ‘bulb’ indicators. “A signboard with bulbs where introduced in 1986. Texts written in small electric bulbs showed the destinations and the stations where they will not stop. It worked on the mechanism of manualswitch operation.” A few years later,computer made its advent and the previous system was upgraded to Micro Processorbased technology. “The new boards also showed whether a train was fast or slow. They were linked to the Train Management System,” he said.

In 2003, these indicators were replaced with their LED counterparts. Initially, there was one main indicator (multi-line double face) showing all the information of a train like its destination, mode and the stations it will not halt at. Besides, there were pilot indicators showing destination code, time, mode and the time within which the train was expected. Unlike the new LCD boards, the LEDs have poor resolution and the texts are a bit blurred though visibility is much better than earlier systems. Chandrayan said, “LCD boards provide better flexibility in displaying information and the visibility is clearer owing to the brightness and contrast.”

Keeping Pace With Time

SLATE-&-CHALK | In the initial days of railways, a slate used to be put up at a station and officials would write train timings on it with a chalk
PAINTED BOARD | The wooden indicators resembled the old score boards in a cricket stadium. From time to time, an employee would manually change the painted panels of digits and alphabets, showing the train timings and destinations
BULB INDICATORS | Introduced in 1986, the indicators worked on manual switch operation technology. They showed destinations and the stations a train would not halt at
MICRO-PROCESSOR | The computer-enabled system was connected with the Train Management System. The new indicators provided commuters with basic details, besides the time within which a train would arrive and whether it was a slow or a fast local
LED INDICATORS | LED-based indicators are superior in quality and provid good visibility LCD INDICATORS | These stateof-the art indicators have high resolution and better picture quality that ensure clearer visibility

Published in: on August 18, 2011 at 4:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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