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LIRR President Fired, Replacement Announced

Helena Williams replaced as LIRR president, MTA announces.

Helena Williams, the first female president of the Long Island Rail Road and longest title holder in decades, has been replaced.

MTA officials made the announcement Wednesday that Williams' almost seven-year reign over the LIRR would end in the coming weeks.

“It’s been a privilege to have served as LIRR President,” Williams said in a statement. “I am deeply grateful to the men and women of the LIRR and to my leadership team who have worked tirelessly to meet the needs of our customers and help modernize the LIRR’s operations.”

"I was surprised…I am greatly disappointed. This had been my dream job," Williams, 58, told Newsday of her firing. 

Williams will officially step down May 12 and will be replaced by Patrick Nowakowski, a longtime railroad professional who most recently served as executive director of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project.

Nowakowski said he was "deeply honored" to be appointed president, saying in a statement, "It's a tall order, and I look forward to working with the LIRR's customers, employees and other stakeholders to ensure the railroad achieves its goals.”

"Pat’s strong background in railroad operations will serve the LIRR well, and I trust Pat to enhance the railroad's operational excellence and emphasize safety and reliability as it confronts new challenges in the coming years," said MTA CEO and Chairman Thomas Prendergast, adding that in the coming years the LIRR "must successfully complete the Double Track project along the Ronkonkoma Branch, harden its infrastructure against the threat of future storms, and prepare for East Side Access to revolutionize service."

"As a Long Islander, Helena has been aware of the landscape and has worked to improve travel for all LIRR commuters," said Long Island Railroad Commuter Council (LIRRCC) chair Mark Epstein in a statement. He added the council thanked Williams for her service and commended her "effort to make The Long Island Rail Road more transparent and responsive."

The LIRRCC added their congratulations to Nowakowski and said that they look forward to working with him when he is appointed.

Some Long Island officials voiced concern over Williams' replacement.

"This change of command comes at a sensitive time for the LIRR and Long Island," Jan Burman, the president of Association for a Better Long Island, told Newsday.

Long Island Association president Kevin Law told Newsday the move was a "bad decision, bad timing, and bad for Long Island."

Do you agree with the decision to fire Williams? What should Nowakowski's top priorities be for the LIRR when he takes over as president? Let us know in the comments section below. 
Dons Wife June 02, 2014 at 11:19 AM
My mistake was taking the Rail to Forest Hills yesterday. Got into Jamaica Station waiting to transfer for the 12:47pm. At about 10 mins later we were told the trains were experiencing signal problems. Ok no prob. Around 1:00pm the 12:52 arrived EXPRESS to Penn only. You would think that they would combine the train to make all local stops to Penn. At 1:15 I asked the agent if the 12:47 was cancelled-his reply" I dunno". I said well can you check to see ....he said "ma'am I dunno". Just ended up walking away and took the subway.
Robert Demarco June 02, 2014 at 11:40 AM
They do not care because they do not have to care. They are protected by their union and a very unfriendly customer service attitude. On many evenings they have live music in Penn Station. When there are problems you cannot hear the announcements over the music. They have uniformed workers milling around the terminal, but they do not know anything.
brookhavenconfucius June 02, 2014 at 12:47 PM
We need a Mussolini, ? Well The Regime Leader has picked the negotiating board, so you know how THAT is going to turn out, don't we ? BUT BARAK AIN'T NO MUSSOLINI !
rita June 02, 2014 at 08:51 PM
I don't understand why there was a MTA tax on our property taxes in Suffolk County. I still think the tax is illegal, and there are only two trains that run on the East End of long island to NYC. I thought this tax was being disputed.
brookhavenconfucius June 03, 2014 at 04:01 AM


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