Keeping the country’s largest commuter railroad on track takes special skills, and Helena Williams has shown she has what it takes to run those trains on time (or close) for the Long Islanders who depend on them daily. That’s not to say there haven’t been enough obstacles in her way that would have tested the mettle of Casey Jones. She’s had to overcome delays, disruptions and derailments—most of them were caused by Amtrak—as well as blizzards, but she had no power over the weather. Last summer, signal equipment almost a century old at the Jamaica Station caught fire, highlighting the urgent need to modernize the LIRR. She just oversaw the renovation of the LIRR’s Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, she’s keeping a wary eye on the biggest public construction program in the United States—the East Side Access project—set to connect Long Island trains with Grand Central Terminal by 2016. It has cost $3.5 billion so far, but the MTA’s commitment to fund the LIRR’s capital funding program is still three years’ short and $2 billion shy. So much seems to be riding on Williams’ shoulders, but with her hand on the throttle, she’s full-speed ahead.