MTA Long Island Rail Road President Phillip Eng will retire and hand the throttle to Catherine Rinaldi on Feb. 26; Rinaldi will serve in an interim capacity while continuing as MTA Metro-North Railroad President, a role she’s held since 2018.
New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chair and CEO Janno Lieber made the announcement on Feb. 10.
An engineer with an infrastructure and construction background, Eng joined MTA in 2017 following service as Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation. At MTA, he was Chief Operating Officer and acting President for New York City Transit, before being appointed LIRR President in 2018.
Eng will become an agency advisor on Feb. 26 and remain on board until March 11.
The addition of LIRR duties is a homecoming of sorts for Rinaldi. She not only grew up in Huntington, Long Island, but also was LIRR Vice President and General Counsel from 2008 to 2011. As interim President, Rinaldi will oversee the December 2022 opening of the $11 billion East Side Access project, bringing LIRR to Grand Central Terminal. Grand Central currently serves Metro-North Railroad and New York City Transit. The new connection is slated to double LIRR’s capacity into Manhattan, with up to 24 trains per hour, and cut travel time for Queens, N.Y., riders by 40 minutes per day.
Rinaldi, one of Railway Age’s 2021 Women in Rail honorees, has also held the positions of MTA Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel, and Chief of Staff and Counsel at MTA Headquarters.
“Cathy Rinaldi is a proven leader with nearly 20 years of experience at the MTA, having served in leadership positions at headquarters and both commuter railroads,” Lieber said. “At Metro-North, she has led efforts to improve system reliability, achieve excellent customer service, and continue the intensive infrastructure work essential to maintaining system safety. She has great relations with labor, has the respect of her staff and puts the customer first. Phil has done an incredible job as President of the LIRR, strengthening operations through the LIRR Forward Plan and overseeing historic infrastructure investments like East Side Access and Third Track—all the while navigating a once-in-a-century crisis with COVID.”
“I want to thank Janno for the confidence that he’s putting in me by giving me this unbelievable opportunity and this unbelievable challenge,” Rinaldi said. “I’m very grateful for it. I’m very grateful to be able to serve in this way and excited for the challenges ahead.”
“I can retire knowing that I leave the LIRR well positioned for continued success with a dedicated management team and a tenacious workforce who are delivering the best train performance in LIRR history while fulfilling our commitments on a historic capital program,” Eng said. “I will always fondly look back on my time working with the MTA family as one of the highlights of my career. The MTA is the backbone of New York—and I will always cherish the opportunity I had working alongside our hardworking, dedicated workforce.” (Download below Eng’s letter to Lieber that confirms his retirement.)
“Phil Eng leaves the LIRR with significant accomplishments that have improved the lives of commuters and Long Islanders,” said Gerard Bringmann, MTA Board Member and Chair of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA as well as the LIRR Commuter Council. “He and his team excelled even through the nation’s worst health crisis. Under his leadership, the LIRR has the best on time performance in its history and is close to finishing major expansion projects like Third Track and East Side Access. Cathy Rinaldi is an excellent choice to step into this tough job. She knows the LIRR because she worked there, and she knows the key issues facing commuters and railroads as we emerge from the COVID crisis. She is no stranger to major projects, as Metro-North is undertaking significant capital work, and with East Side Access coming into Grand Central, the marriage of these two roles at this time makes sense. We look forward to working with her in her new role on behalf of riders from Wassaic to Montauk.”