Nowakowski to lead LIRR

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has appointed Patrick Nowakowski as president of Long Island Rail Road (LIRR).


Nowakowski is a career railroad professional with broad experience in operations, engineering, infrastructure and planning. For the past five years, he has served as executive director of the Dulles Corridor Metrorail Project, which is building a 23-mile rail line to connect with the Washington, D.C., system. He previously served more than 27 years with the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), including seven years as assistant general manager of operations.

“Pat Nowakowski is a railroad expert with a rare mix of skills and a long career of accomplishments and I am pleased to welcome him to the LIRR,” Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Prendergast said. “Our customers have high expectations for safe and reliable service, and events last year throughout the MTA family have shown why we must always stay focused on the basics of how best to provide that service.”

Nowakowski began his career in 1975 at the freight railroad that would become Conrail, designing track layouts as a civil engineer. He joined SEPTA in 1981 as a senior civil engineer, where he developed a five-year capital plan for its rails and roadbed and advanced through a series of positions with increasing responsibilities for delivering service, maintaining equipment and managing infrastructure.

Prendergast said, “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. Nowakowski’s strong background in railroad operations will serve the LIRR well and I trust him to enhance the railroad’s operational excellence and emphasize safety and reliability as it confronts new challenges in the coming years.”

Nowakowski replaces Helena Williams, who served as LIRR president for almost seven years, making her the railroad’s longest-serving president in decades. Williams had previously served 13 years in other MTA positions, including five years as president of MTA Long Island Bus. At the LIRR, Williams improved the railroad’s customer communications, oversaw major capital improvements along branches and at terminals and planned for new service growth while shrinking costs. She was the first woman to serve as the president of an MTA agency, the first woman to run the LIRR and the first woman to run the MTA when she served as the agency’s interim executive director and chief executive officer in 2009.

“It’s been a privilege to have served as LIRR president,” Williams said. “My focus always has been on providing safe, secure and reliable train service to our customers and I believe we achieved those goals while improving customer communications and strengthening our relationships with the many communities we serve throughout Long Island. 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.”

Categories: Commuter/Regional, OFF Track Maintenance