At train stations in the UK (and I also noticed in Italy) - the departure/arrival boards use orange text on a black background.

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However, at airports there appear to be a much wider variety of colour and layout for the same use case.

Is there a reason or any research on why departure board are different for different modes of transport, and whether orange on black is significantly more readable than white on black?

  • 2
    In Germany it's different, they are using a blue background with white text. Any combination of colors that makes it readable is ok.
    – Krebto
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 11:28
  • 4
    With many things like this I assume readability decisions were not the core driver. More likely - "we need some display boards, go and find the cheapest provider that looks ok".
    – JonW
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 11:37
  • It's an interesting convention that can also be seen in roadside variable-message (matrix) signs, which use the same or similar technology.
    – Matt Obee
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 12:05
  • Notice how the lights are orange but the printed text is white.
    – Alvaro
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 12:25
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Rail_corporate_liveries The reason I'd guess is that black and yellow/orange are the train colours (intercity 225=the icon of the 80s), even in these days of multiple private operators it holds over. A quick search of network rail shows their trains in yellow and black too. Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 13:00

1 Answer 1


Simply because orange LEDs used to be brighter and more reliable than white ones. The Rail Vehicle Accessibilty Regulations require specific amounts of contrast in on board information screens and may cover on-station screens also.

Infotec is one of the more commonly seen manufacturers of these displays in the UK, and do now offer white-on-black screens which have been rolled out to some locations, as well as white-on-blue LCD screens similar to those seen in Germany.

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