Quick Action By LIRR Conductor Saves The Day

By Mike Charles

LIRR Conductor Brian DeGorter has a great on-the-job story to tell and a customer is still around today, all because of some quick action on Brian’s part. As DeGorter was collecting tickets from customers on train #8017 (10:40 AM Ronkonkoma to Penn) on a Sunday, a 60-year old female customer ran up to him, signaling that she was choking. “She was in bad shape and starting to turn blue,” said DeGorter. He tried to dislodge whatever the woman was choking on by first striking her in the back several times. After this was unsuccessful, DeGorter applied the Heimlich Maneuver and after about 15 seconds a chunk of apple that the woman had been choking on popped out of her mouth. DeGorter received a standing ovation from customers in the crowded car.

De Gorter says the woman refused further medical treatment and “was more embarrassed than anything else.” “She even offered to show me her train ticket,” said DeGorter. He said the woman, who was travelling by herself, was very grateful. The 13-year LIRR veteran employee from East Setauket added, “to save a life is really incredible.”

LIRR Ticket Agent “Sees Something and Does Something,” Resulting in Life Saving Action; Receives MTA Recognition

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast presents MTA Heroism Award to LIRR Ticket Agent James Verschure at an MTA Board meeting.

By Mike Charles

MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast recognized LIRR Ticket Agent James Verschure with the MTA Heroism Award following an incident at Ronkonkoma Station. Verschure was on the job last February when he was alerted about unattended luggage left on the platform near track two. As he investigated, agent Verschure spotted the owner of those bags lying unconscious on the tracks less than two feet away from the live third rail. Verschure notified the Movement Bureau to de-energize the third rail and with the assistance of three Suffolk County Police detectives moved the injured man to safety. He was taken to an area hospital. The 14-year LIRR employee’s quick actions are being credited with saving the man’s life.

Women in Transportation Lunch Seminar with
Pat Nowakowski

By Barbara Kearse & Diana Jones
Initially planned to foster discussion in an informal setting regarding everyday challenges and opportunities between the women of the LIRR and President Pat Nowakowski, the Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) – Greater New York Chapter recently hosted by the LIRR attracted nearly 100 attendants.

What began as a low-key, brown-bag luncheon developed the dynamic tone of a Power Lunch, with President Nowakowski reiterating his “commitment to the advancement of women within the organization and industry,” declaring, “I want every single person in this room to have the opportunity for advancement.” A key component to the event’s success was the presence of WTS president Beth DeAngelo and the organization’s Membership Committee Chair Sandra Forte. Both DeAngelo and LIRR President Nowakowski encouraged attendees to get involved in networking organizations like WTS, in order to benefit from the professional development, education, mentoring and diversity provided by the association and its members. Ms. DeAngelo shared her personal story of how she was asked to join the organization’s mentoring program early on in her career as an engineer in the industry, with no expectation of it benefiting her at the time. Once the year-long program was successfully completed, it was made known to her that her supervisor justified signing her up for the program because “The only roadblock that I see in Beth DeAngelo’s future as a leader in Transportation is hesitation in her own mind and confidence.”

“I was not aware that I needed confidence,” DeAngelo revealed, “but I did.”

President Nowakowski speaking at the WTS Lunch Seminar

“Participation in programs such as the mentoring program offered by WTS can be key to careers for women in this industry,” DeAngelo added. “It helps remove individual roadblocks, even if you are not aware of what those blocks are, and helps provide the confidence and support needed in order to emerge as a true leader in this industry,” Participants undoubtedly agreed with DeAngelo’s statement, as they collectively raised their hands when she asked, “Who here would like to have a mentor?” The inspiring event ended with a thought-provoking question and answer session regarding potential actions that can be taken to help women in their careers within transportation and the LIRR, and the availability of WTS brochures and instruction on how to become a WTS – Greater New York Chapter member.

For additional information about WTS, please contact Barbara Kearse at bkearse@lirr.org.

Welcome Aboard!
The LIRR's Four New VP's

LIRR President Pat Nowakowski has appointed David Kubicek as Senior Vice President – Operations, Bruce Pohlot as Senior Vice President – Engineering, Kathleen Meilick as Senior Vice President – Administration and Edward Dumas as Vice President – Market Development & Public Affairs.

“I am pleased to announce these very important additions to our leadership team at the Long Island Rail Road,” said Nowakowski. “Dave Kubicek and Bruce Pohlot bring with them decades of railroad industry experience, Ed Dumas is a veteran of government and corporate public affairs on Long Island, and Kathy Meilick has long – time experience at the LIRR which will be invaluable in dealing with major administrative issues.”

Edward Dumas, Vice President - Market Development & Public Affairs: Responsible for the Marketing, Public Affairs, and Government Affairs areas. Ed comes to the LIRR from the MTA’s executive staff and has served in senior positions in Suffolk County government and at the Long Island Power Authority.

David Kubicek
, Senior Vice President - Operations: Responsible for the Transportation, Maintenance of Equipment and Stations Departments. Dave has worked at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority in Washington, D.C., the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Kathy Meilick
, Senior Vice President- Administration: Responsible for the Human Resources, Labor and Training Departments. Kathy is a 32-year veteran of the Long Island Rail Road, rising through the ranks from an extra steno-typist to various senior management, administrative and personnel positions.

Bruce Pohlot
, Senior Vice President- Engineering: Responsible for the Engineering Department, Department of Program Management, East Side Access and Special Projects. Bruce has worked at Parsons Brinckerhoff, Amtrak, Conrail and the Lehigh Valley Railroad.

LIRR Joins Special FRA Safety Reporting System

By Mike Charles

The LIRR is now part of the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS). At a special signing ceremony at the Jamaica Central Control Building (JCC), representatives of the FRA, LIRR, and LIRR unions, put their names to the Implementing Memorandum of Understanding to officially become part of the FRA sponsored program called, “a collaborative problem-solving approach to improving safety.”

LIRR President Pat Nowakowski, after thanking everyone involved in this undertaking, said the agreement, “moves the bar to get to safety and allows the railroad to leave the status quo and move to a better place.” FRA, LIRR management and union representatives have been meeting to develop the LIRR’s C3RS Program for about one year.

Under the program, LIRR employees who report on “close calls” are offered guarantees of confidentiality and may be eligible for protection from discipline. C3RS itself is a partnership between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), participating carriers and labor organizations. It is designed to improve railroad safety by collecting and studying reports detailing unsafe conditions and events in the railroad industry. NASA’s success and experience with managing the aviation industry’s confidential close call safety reporting system since 1976 includes receiving over one million reports from the aviation community without ever violating a reporter’s confidentiality. This experience made NASA the FRA’s logical choice as a partner for C3RS.

Rob Castiglione, Staff Director of the FRA’s Human Performance Programs Office, said C3RS has already been adopted by Amtrak, New Jersey Transit, Union Pacific and some other major freight railroads. He said Metro North Railroad’s program is being finalized and other commuter railroads are interested in possible participation in the program. Castiglione said the LIRR is the largest commuter railroad now involved in C3RS. According to NASA, a close call is considered any condition or event that has the potential for more serious safety consequences. Examples of close calls would include, but are not limited to, a train running through a switch or a train striking a derail.

The LIRR program will be piloted in various locations over the course of the next year. The first locations to start include Upper Holban Yard, Hillside Yard and Shops, Dunkirk and West Side Yard. A Peer Review Team consisting of representatives from LIRR management and labor organizations will work with an FRA representative to review each confidential close call report received. The goal is to develop strategies to improve the railroad’s safety culture and safety performance. An employee may submit a report by either filing a form on-line or mailing in a report using forms available on-site or through their labor organizations.

Ronkonkoma Double Track Milestone

By Mike Charles

State, local, union and LIRR officials marked the start of installation work on the first section of new double track on the Ronkonkoma Branch. The four-mile section of track between Central Islip and Ronkonkoma is the first leg of the Project.

The $388-million Double Track Project will eventually see a second track in place in the 18-mile stretch between Farmingdale and Ronkonkoma stations. The first leg is funded under the 2010-2014 MTA LIRR Capital Program while Phase 2 is included in the 2015-2019 Capital Program. The Project “will help to improve service reliability and support economic growth, allowing better reverse peak service to help spur the growth of Long Island employment centers,” according to LIRR President Pat Nowakowski.

(L-R) Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter; Presiding Officer of the Suffolk County Legislature DuWayne Gregory; Dick O’Kane, President of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk; Anthony Simon, General Chairman-SMART/Transportation; Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone; LIRR President Pat Nowakowski; State Senator Tom Croci; Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine; Long Island Association President Kevin Law; State Senator Phil Boyle; Christopher Natale ,General Chairman Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen. | Photo Credit: John Spoltore

Kara Myers

Long Island University Student - Public Affairs Intern, Summer 2015

LIRR Summer 2015 Interns (L-R) Back Row: Angela Mendes, Miguel Diaz, Patrick Ojimba, Alex Sullivan; Front Row: Michelle Sandoval, Marie Hamilton, Rasheeda McRae, Kara Meyers

My internship at the Long Island Rail Road has been, by far, the most interesting, hands-on, informative internship that I have ever experienced as an undergraduate -- and I have had five internships!. When I was accepted into the LIRR’s 2015 internship program, I was delighted to learn that I would be working with the Corporate Communications division of the Public Affairs Department; it was not until I started my first day that I would know the extent of the learning experience I was about to delve into.

In my personal experience with other internship programs outside the Railroad, the intern is usually seen but not heard and is rarely asked for input in decision-making processes. However, once I was part of the LIRR’s Public Affairs team, I was encouraged to participate in making some decisions. This made me feel accepted, rather than merely a visitor who is going to be there for three months. I was trained thoroughly on how to handle customer correspondence and not only did it make me happy that I could help, but I hope I was able to make some of the Railroad’s customers happy as well.

The internship program at the LIRR is a great opportunity for students that want to learn more about the various aspects of the commuter rail industry. During the course of the summer, the interns attended various Brown Bag Lunches and listened to presentations by managers from many different LIRR departments, which informed us about other areas of the Railroad. Through the Brown Bag Lunches, we were exposed to the daily routine of departments such as Engineering, Transportation, Corporate Safety and M-of-E. Getting a better understanding of these departments gave the interns an opportunity to understand the job duties and responsibilities of these departments, to determine whether these are fields we would like to pursue after college.

Another good opportunity for networking was the “All Agency Breakfast,” where we heard from the Presidents of each MTA agency about how they reached the positions they are appointed to today. We were also able to chat with interns from other MTA agencies like Bridges and Tunnels and Capital Construction.

Interning at the LIRR is an experience that you will not get anywhere else. I do not believe there is a more hands-on and informative internship program available. At the LIRR, you are encouraged to ask questions and provide input in the decision-making process. It is a good opportunity for all students in all majors -- from business to engineering to computer science & technology. During my time with the LIRR, I was given the chance to see all of the various departments and the work required to run a successful transportation agency.

New Wyandanch Parking Facility

By Mike Charles

The Wyandanch Parking Facility opened on August 1, 2015. It was built by the LIRR at a cost of $29-millon, funded through the 2010-2014 MTA Capital Program with most of the money provided by the Federal Transportation Administration. It was designed to complement the Town of Babylon’s Wyandanch Rising Initiative, a $500-million Transit Oriented Development.

Project Manager Teffin George said a major reason for the success of the project was “the seamless coordination involving the LIRR, the project developer and the Town of Babylon,” who all played a major role in the Wyandanch Rising initiative. The 900-plus space commuter parking facility received the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Long Island Branch – Transit Project of the Year Award 2015.


Photo Credit: John Spoltore

Recovery From NYAR Derailment

On Tuesday, September 15th at around 1:00PM, two cars of a New York & Atlantic Railway freight train carrying construction material derailed, blocking one of two tracks between Westbury and Hicksville. LIRR work crews (pictured here) worked night and day to unload tons of construction debris from the freight cars that had toppled and removed both cars from the tracks. They also repaired more than 200 feet of track. The electrified third rail was then rebuilt.

While the work was underway, rush hour service operated on the unaffected track. Buses replaced trains during off-peak hours so the work could proceed uninterrupted. By Thursday, full service was restored on both tracks.


November 2014
30 years
Alice Licata Sr. Budget Administrator
25 Years
Robert Kollmer Certified Machinist Welder
Winston SmithMachinist
Donna Springer Sr. Head Clerk
Dolores Jenkins HR Assistant
Kara Mercado Mgr.Office Admin Info Svcs
Allen Boyle Asst. Dir. FA Scopes, Estimates & Project Controls
Steven Hodulick Sr Network Engineer Level 1
Wilbert Waters, Jr Engineer
Alfred Dingler Machinist Air Brake
Jeffrey Schaum Electrician
20 Years
Laura Lee Mendell Bailin Asst. Dir. Claims & Invstgtns
Kathleen LongSupv. Rev. Info & Rptg.
James Rienzo Yardmaster
Elizabeth Samuels Crew Dispatcher
Kevin Weiss Engineer
Shirley Brown Customer Svc Representative
Thomas Speed Sheet Metal Worker
Carmel Page Station Appearance Maintainer
Patrick Ciresi Travel Foreman Stat/Off
Arnott Edwards Chief Station Cleaner
Terence Glum Foreman PES
Elvin Vazquez Dep. Chief Stores Officer
Christopher Feeley Engineer
Joan Jansson Engineer
Vincent Santiago Conductor
Ralph WetzelLead Transportation Mgr.
George Smalls Conductor
Colleen Lam Conductor
December 2014
30 Years
Walter HilsenbeckEngineer
Sandra LassiterSupv. Customer Svc. Center
25 Years
Evan ScottEngineer
Gregory James Asst. Dir.Safety&Security Trng.
Bonnie BrisbaneExec. Secy. Labor Rel.
Anthony AlbanoThird Railman
William SchultzTrain Director-JCC
Adolfo ParedesRoad Car Inspector
Ronald BlackmanRoad Car Inspector
William GagliardiGang Foreman ME
20 Years
Gary Gavorsky Asst. Train Director
Matthew ClearyChief Train Dispatcher
Michael GraciaBlock Operator
Kenny BautistaSupv. Train Movement
Jacqueline MorelTrain Dispatcher
Jason ValdemiraConductor
Robert PerezConductor
Vincent Tessitore, JrSMART Vice General Chairman & Conductor
Lisette CoughlinCustomer Svc. Rep.
Keith CarleyEngineer
April Bonventre-TrainaEngineer
Bret BeckerSupt. of Engines
January 2015
30 Years
George ClancyMachinist
Anthony OrioleGang Foreman L&P
John LopezThird Railman
Antin BenderskyEngineer
Jerry D’AgostinoMgr. Facilities Plng.
Robert Jaccino, Jr. Engr. Electric Traction
25 Years
Susan PageAdmin Asst ESAR&SP
Judy WellsSecretary
Howard GadsbyChief Cust. Serv. Clerk
20 Years
Ronald ScottEngineer
Edgerton RobinsonMachinist
Charles RenfroeEngineer
Carlos MaderoRoad Car Inspector
Thomas RollinoThird Railman
Johnny TorresCertified Carman Welder
Timothy HoffmanCar Repairman
Melissa CarrollOiler
Thomas VernonM of W Utility Worker
Christopher LongAGM Station Ops
Kenneth FineganGang Foreman M of E
Ralph MenechinoRoad Car Inspector
John CritelliRoad Car Inspector
Donna Keating Conductor
February, 2015
30 Years
Blake LawlorSignalman Communications
Gail SherwoodCar Appearance Maintainer
Rudolph Byfield Car Appearance Maintainer.
Thomas LuckettRoad Car Inspector
25 Years
Donna BettyDirector - Strategic Investments
Caroline WardPlanning & Ctrl. Coord.
Rita Pellegrini Secretary ESA
John DellaguardiaOiler
John Isaacs Road Foreman
Andrew MartoneSafety Compliance Admin.
20 Years
Robert SoleSignal Inspector
Sanjiv KumarAsst. Engr. Signal SCADA R&D
Arthur KissmerForeman Signal
Noel Haluza Signal Maintainer
August Rene BretousElectrician
Robert KreuzerSignal Inspector
Steven CironeSignal Inspector
Brian James Training Spec. Engine Svc.
March 2015
35 Years
Salvatore ZambutoDirector - Public Information Office
30 Years
Mark O’BrienUsher
Michael CelesteThird Railman
Charles FortschElectrician
Michael ChindamoThird Railman
Daniel Cleary, JrChief Mechanical Officer
James SinclairEngineer
25 Years
Richard ColeAsst. Supv. Material
John HerbstCust. Svc. Center Supv.
Arthur Boos III Engineer
Dora CoryellEngineer
William CorleyEngineer
Homer GuanlaoMgr. Scopes & Estimates
Frank GarafolaChief Train Dispatcher
Anthony SimonSMART General Chairman & Conductor
Robert CarletonStation Appearance Maintainer
Christie FarleyAsst. Mgr. Ticket Services
20 Years
Sergio Fuquene Engineer
Emroy Rochester Electrician
Donovan ChannerGang Foreman M of E
Salvatore MistrettaElectrician
Joseph GrassaGang Foreman M of E
John Carley Gang Foreman M of E
Joshua Rodriquez Gang Foreman M of E
Dexter KellamGang Foreman M of E
Francis PortelaPrincipal Engr Substations
Jon PalladinoGang Foreman Substations



November 2014
Alan R. Brandofino, Foreman PES30 years
Robert Brown, Painter33 years
George Burl, Track Worker32 years
Anthony Ceccato, Electrician 27 years
Patrick Donovan, Conductor 22 years
Kenneth Husband, Car Repairman15 years
Franklin M. Lewsi, Electrician16 years
Alberto Martinez, Travel Foreman Stat/Off 25 years
Marilyn Morano, Payroll Coordinator16 years
Dominick Renda, Third Railman 32 years
Lawrence Szybkowski, Lead Transportation Mgr 30 years
Robert Vokoun, Signal Inspector15 years
December 2014
Claude Applewhite, Signal Inspector30 years
Dirk Burden, Conductor25 years
Arnott Edwards, Chief Station Cleaner20 years
Ann Granatelli, Chief Clerk33 years
John Kennedy, Stationary Engineer35 years
Yen Liang, Project Engineer13 years
Elizabeth Samuels, Crew Dispatcher20 years
Robert Vitzthum, Electrician31 years
January 2015
Joseph Calderone, VP Marketing & Public Affairs 7 years
Edward Hartmann, Crew Dispatcher29 years
Kathleen Long, Supv. Rev. Info & Reporting20 years
Rupert Merrique, Conductor17 years
Nancy Scopo, Usher31 years
February 2015
Kelly Edwards, PSCC Operator Console22 years
Karl Johnson, Electrician18 years
Peter O’Brien, Plumber Foreman23 years
Anthony Orioles, Gang Foreman30 years
March 2015
Sharon Royster, Car Repairman26 years
Ronald Leone, Crane Engineer26 years

Flashback Corner

Valley Stream Circa 1940’s