Brightline Trains, the country’s first privately funded high-speed rail company in more than a century, announced last week the appointment of Mike Reininger as Chief Executive Officer of Brightline Holdings. The new holding company will oversee strategy for the company across various geographies and advance plans for expansion into new markets with new systems and a fully integrated mobility offering aligned with the needs and sensibilities of the modern American traveler.
In 2018, Brightline Florida launched its initial phase of operations, showcasing high-speed rail’s potential in the United States. Brightline carried over one million guests in its first full calendar year as it refined the notion of mobility in downtown environments. Brightline is preparing to relaunch service in 2021.
Reininger is a familiar face at Brightline, having served as the president and chief development officer from 2012 to 2018. Under his leadership, Brightline launched and completed the development of its phase one system from Miami to West Palm Beach, including stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Reininger initiated Brightline’s transformational renaissance of Downtown Miami with MiamiCentral, an 11-acre mixed-use urban experience that includes a food hub, 800+ residences, commercial towers and a multi-modal transportation center.
Reininger joins a strong management team that has helped position Brightline and Brightline West for growth. Patrick Goddard will continue to lead Brightline’s Florida business as president, overseeing the company’s operations and commercial efforts. Sarah Watterson will continue to serve as Brightline’s chief development officer and president of Brightline West.
“We’re excited to welcome Mike back to Brightline and the timing could not be better as we look to break ground on Brightline West and expand to new markets,” said Wes Edens, chairman of Brightline and co-founder of Fortress Investment Group. “Mike’s track record in the financial markets and as a major developer, position Brightline for success at a pivotal time for high-speed rail and infrastructure investments in America.”
The high-speed rail company seeks to connect city pairs that are too short to fly and too far to drive. Brightline is currently under construction to the Orlando International Airport, which would start in Miami and span 235 miles. Brightline is already planning a third extension to Tampa that would include an inline station at Walt Disney World Resort’s Disney Springs. Brightline entered into a lease agreement with Disney in 2020 and is negotiating with the Florida Department of Transportation on the complete Tampa extension.
Brightline West is the company’s first expansion outside of Florida and will connect Las Vegas to the greater Los Angeles Metro Area. The project would utilize fully electric, zero-emission train sets with top speeds of 200 miles per hour making it the greenest form of transportation in the country. Brightline plans to build the rail line in the median of the I-15 highway and has secured a right-of-way agreement with CALTRANS and NDOT.
“With a proof of concept established at Brightline, it is an honor to work with the talented leadership team already in place to help advance the vision for a mobility solution that is efficient, sustainable, technology-driven and most of all – enjoyable,” said Reininger. “With the singular knowledge base and experience gained over the last 10 years, and with an eye toward car-free travel experiences, I look forward to seeing service reinstated in Florida and the wealth of opportunities that will follow.”
Reininger brings more than three decades of experience in the development of major projects and the start-up of unique companies to Brightline. Prior to 2012, Reininger delivered some of the world’s most iconic projects while working with the Walt Disney Company, including several resort hotels, the initiation of the Disney Vacation Club, EuroDisney Resort in Paris and the launch of the Disney Cruise Line. Reininger was also the managing director of the Union Station Neighborhood Company where he led the effort to transform Denver’s Union Station and its downtown railyard into a modern multi-modal transportation hub. Most recently he was the chief executive officer of Qiddiya Investment Company, developing one of the world’s largest entertainment, sports and cultural destinations.
Brightline is the first privately funded passenger rail system in America in over a century and was recognized by Fast Company as one of the Most Innovative Companies in travel. Brightline is designed to reinvent travel and take cars off the road by connecting city pairs and congested corridors that are too close to fly and too long to drive. Providing fast, efficient, hospitality-driven transportation featuring the latest in customer-friendly amenities, Brightline currently operates in Florida between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with plans to expand to Orlando. The company’s second corridor will connect Las Vegas to Southern California and is expected to break ground this year.