LIRR president Helena Williams greets commuters

Mineola: LIRR president Helena Williams speaks to Sarah Mineola: LIRR president Helena Williams speaks to Sarah Ricchiuti, of New Hyde Park, as commuters wait for the LIRR on Monday, August 30, 2010 in Mineola, New York. The LIRR is operating on a normal timetable a week after a fire damaged the switching system, causing massive schedule changes. (Photo by Howard Schnapp) Photo Credit: Photo by Howard Schnapp

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On the first full day that the Long Island Rail Road was fully operational since last week's fire at Jamaica station, the head of the LIRR took the opportunity to thank some of her customers face-to-face for their patience.

LIRR president Helena Williams greeted several commuters at the Mineola station Monday - one week since an electrical fire damaged the agency's switching system and caused nearly a full week of train cancellations and delays. LIRR officials announced late Sunday afternoon that the repairs and testing had been completed and that service would be fully restored in time for the Monday morning commute.

"What's really very good about talking to customers is that you really get a sense of how much they need our train service and how much they depend on it," Williams said. "Customers have generally been nice and happy to see me here this morning."

Williams walked up to several commuters, extended her hand and introduced herself as the president of the LIRR, and then went on to express her gratitude for their patience and cooperation during last week's service disruptions. Commuters appeared pleasantly surprised to meet the head of the nation's largest commuter railroad in person. One even had her autograph her MTA system map.

"I think it shows that she cares," said Adam Brieloff, 45, of Hempstead, who chatted with Williams for a couple of minutes on the station platform before boarding his train to Penn Station. "It's a good thing to do."

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