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Brightline shuffles managers as it readies to launch service in summer

All Aboard Florida’s Brightline has expanded its leadership team in preparation for the launch of the first leg of its passenger rail service this summer and the future expansion of the system north to Orlando.

Michael Reininger, who has served as All Aboard’s president for more than four years and overseen the construction of the company’s rail line and passenger stations, will leave the post to focus on the expansion of the Brightline system across Florida. In his new role, Reininger will serve as executive director at Florida East Coast Industries, Brightline’s parent company, where he will also focus on the potential to replicate Brightline’s model in other parts of the country.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about All Aboard Florida’s Brightline

“There is an unprecedented opportunity to replicate the remarkable success Brightline has built over the last five years in many other places,” said Wes Edens, co-founder of Fortress Investment Group, the multibillion-dollar hedge fund that has backed the private rail project. “We have proof of concept for delivering private-sector led transportation projects that can be created efficiently, quickly and profitably. As we see the impact of Brightline take hold in Florida, we’re going to look to translate our success across the country.”

Dave Howard, an executive from the sports and entertainment industry who spent more two decades working with the New York Mets, has been named Brightline’s new chief executive officer. In addition to his job with the Mets, Howard has also worked in the Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball and as president of MSG Sports, which owns and operates the New York Knicks, the New York Rangers, and the New York Liberty.

RELATED: Concern over Brightline prompts lawmakers to consider rail regulations

Brightline officials said Howard’s extensive background in the sports and entertainment industry is well-suited for the private-rail venture, which like sporting venues, is focused on ticket sales, hospitality, customer service and food and beverage offerings.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to help build a business that is so important to the state of Florida,” Howard said. “We’re introducing a much-needed alternative transportation solution for Floridians and visitors that will transform the regional economy and downtown cores.”

Brightline officials also said Patrick Goddard, who serves as the company’s executive vice-president of operations, will be elevated to chief operating officer.

Brightline is expected to launch service between Miami and West Palm Beach this summer. The company plans to eventually extend the service north from West Palm Beach to Orlando.

Track work needed to run the train between West Palm Beach and Orlando has not yet begun, and no date has been set for the launch of the second phase.

Treasure Coast leaders are challenging that stretch of the project, and have filed a federal lawsuit to block bonds that the company had planned to use to pay for the construction.

Eventually, Brightline plans to run as many as 32 trains a day between Miami and Orlando on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. The company’s trains are expected to reach speeds of up to 79 miles per hour between Miami and West Palm Beach; 110 mph between West Palm Beach and Cocoa Beach; and 125 mph between Cocoa and Orlando.

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