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Philly Railfan Pictures of the Week
Philly Railfan Pictures of the Week
 
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Railfan Pictures of the Week - 01/27/2019
 
Amtrak Thirtieth Street Station Philadelphia PA January 25 2019
 
It may be hard to believe that people have been lamenting the imminent demise of a 40 year old add-on to an almost 90 year old landmark, but that is the case this weekend as the Solari Board at Philadelphia's Thirtieth Street Station spends its last days clicking away. Installed in the station by Amtrak back in the 1970's, it is among many that popped up at stations up and down the Northeast Corridor and it is the last to fall.
The modern board became the focal point of the massive neo-classically decorated waiting area for a few reasons. One, it was installed at the information desk in the center of the station. Two, it was the place where you found out what was arriving from where and what was departing to where, as well as the track where all that was happening. And third, and probably the most endearing reason, was its ability to tell you when any of that information changed, even when you weren't looking, with the soft click of a flap. Even with your back to the sign, you knew the gentle cascade of flipping tiles sounding like a million dominoes meant something just happened and it was about to tell you. And as the next train to leave was always at the top, most of the board was rewritten with every departure, two lines at a time, in a mesmerizing display of mechanical dexterity.
Even some of the usually jaded employees wanted to get a shot before it was gone. Digital displays surrounding the information desk will be a poor substitute.
While the digital displays lack the sonic ambience, this is the information age and hopefully more information is what we will get in exchange. After all, the Solari board could only handle up 7 trains at a time.
What we as railfans would love to get is the information on this screen below. It lists various trains on the corridor and their most recent waypoints, and not just Amtrak trains. For example, it notes that NS 37A had most recently passed Newark DE on Track #1 at 09:42:20 PM while its twin NS 36A had passed Elkton at 09:39:47 PM (yes, down to the second).
Another thing we will miss are the quirky malfunctions like "187 REHIONAL".
Less than 24 hours later, the plug was pulled and the sign removed, to be shipped to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg.
 
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