This morning I noticed that the back side of the Solari split-flap departure board at Baltimore Penn Station was completely blank (the front was still operating normally) and a pedestal with a pair of plasma displays (one facing in each direction) had appeared at the back of the information booth. The last time I went through the station, I noticed that one whole row on the back side of the Solari board was blank; I suspected at the time that maintenance was faltering. I expect this means the Solari board will be replaced at some point in the near future.
I have read that Solari still manufacture parts for the split-flap departure boards, so the lack of maintenance is likely a result of Amtrak’s desire to get rid of them (a shame, in my opinion) rather than an inability to source parts (in which case it would make sense that they would scavenge parts from one side to keep the other running). Perhaps the only redeeming factor New York Penn Station had was that it had a split-flap departure board until some time a few years ago. The new LCD departure board at NYP looks much the same as the old one but has far less character. Baltimore Penn Station has never had much going in its favor, and tearing out the Solari board really won’t help.
I also question the rationale behind the replacement of split-flap departure boards (as many railfans have); they’re a proven technology. It’s not as though they’re being replaced by plasma displays which show full-motion graphics; in many cases they are replaced by LCD displays which are not pixel-addressable; the elements are more like seven-segment displays in construction. Thus these new departure boards often have the same fixed format as their predecessors, and they’re more complex and must be powered continuously, whereas a split-flap display requires power only when being updated. Where there are plasma displays, they just show the same feed coming from a character generator hooked up to ARROW that used to be fed into CRTs: (mostly) white text on a black background, no graphics, no animation, and not even a pleasant font.