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NY Central Railroad renovation wrapping up; statues return to wait for the night train

Ellen Abbott
"Waiting for the Night Train" statues at the New York Central Rairoad station platform

New York state is wrapping up a restoration of the historic New York Central Railroad station platform along Interstate 690 in Syracuse. And that also means several ghost-like fiberglass statues will again take up their station, waiting for a train that never comes.

A couple of nuns, a soldier, a luggage handler and members of a northside family are once again waiting for the night train along Interstate 690 in Syracuse.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Duke Epolito, the Syracuse sculptor who created the series of bright white statues, installed them on the platform 35 years ago.

"I was 12 years old, and picking the train up to go and see the Yankees, and it looked like a big spaceship coming into Syracuse. And it left an imprint on me. And that’s what actually stimulated us to do the piece,” said Epolito.

The statues have been cleaned up and stored ever since the state began the $1.4 million restoration of the old train station, built in 1936 as part of a New York Central Railroad complex. The platform, which closed in 1962, has suffered the ravages of central New York weather through the years, to the point where the roof was collapsing and the retaining wall crumbling. New York State Transportation Commissioner Matt Driscoll says something needed to be done.

"There’s a liability issue for all New York state taxpayers as well, because underneath this platform is a private sector owned space that people are in and out of. The platform was in deplorable condition. So we took the correct action in making sure we strengthened it and protected the private sector folks below, and the taxpayers of New York state.”

The DOT estimates that 127,000 westbound vehicles pass the station every day as they enter the city of Syracuse.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.