The classic clicking of destinations spinning into place, echoing through 30th Street Station's cavernous great hall, will likely be a thing of the past within two months.
Amtrak plans to remove the Solari board in January, officials said Thursday. It will be replaced by a larger digital sign in the first month of 2019 as part of an upgrade to the station's announcements system. The Solari board, meanwhile, is headed to a new home.
The flip-style board, named after its Italian manufacturer, was installed in the 1970's, Amtrak officials said. At that time, the clicking of its placards into place, listing destinations around the country, was synonymous with travel.
"Years ago, they were the standard for train stations, airports," said David Handera, an Amtrak vice president in charge of stations and properties. "I even remember as a kid at Newark Airport, Kennedy, seeing these types of boards."
They have become nearly obsolete, though. The one at 30th Street still runs off Windows 95, Handera said, and parts for it are no longer mass-produced and must be custom-made. The Solari board at 30th Street Station in now the last one in operation at Amtrak stations.
The signage upgrade is expected to begin next month, Handera said. Digital signs are to be installed above the stairways to all the platforms in December. The new boards will start working in early January, and the digital replacement for the Solari is expected to be operational in late January.
The new board, which will display information being announced over the public address system for people with hearing disabilities, will list arrivals and departures, and can also show information on boardings by passenger class and safety information.
The new system will cost about $11 million, Amtrak reported.
The Solari board is being donated to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg, Lancaster County. The board will likely be put in place there sometime in 2019, though an exact timetable hasn't been set.
"The logistics of removing it, getting it prepared for transportation, getting it from point to point, is going to be difficult," said Howard Pollman, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, "because there are literally a lot of moving parts."