BRADENTON, Fla. - All Aboard Florida has announced an anticipated rollout schedule for the first phase of its Brightline-branded intercity express train service.
The private company said Friday that it expects to begin service with an introductory phase operating between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale in late July, followed by service to Miami in late August.
The official launch of regular train service along the 67-mile south Florida segment is anticipated in September.
No specific dates or ticket prices were released.
The new schedule was announced less than a week after the company named Dave Howard, a sports industry consultant, as its new chief executive officer.
Howard is the co-founder of sports consulting firm Howard And Sergi LLC in New York. He has also has served as president of MSG Sports and an executive vice president with the New York Mets.
All Aboard Florida has not released information about when the company plans to issue $600 million of tax-exempt private activity bonds approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation on Nov. 22.
Bond proceeds will finance construction or reimburse the company for work on phase one of the project in south Florida, where train stations are nearing completion in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.
Originally, the company received a $1.75 billion PAB allocation to fund work along the entire 235-mile route between Miami and Orlando.
However, All Aboard Florida requested that USDOT withdraw its application for the full sum as it defended two federal lawsuits brought by Indian River and Martin counties.
County officials have said they hope to block the company from obtaining public financing for the second phase of the project - the 128 miles between West Palm Beach to Orlando, which will pass through Indian River and Martin counties without stopping.
All Aboard Florida and the USDOT argued in January that the suits should be dismissed because PAB financing no longer exists for phase two.
A ruling is pending before U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper.
When asked about a timeline for service to Orlando, the company provided a statement saying that it has been "very focused" on launching service from Miami to West Palm Beach.
"Now that we are readying for service launch, we are continuing to make progress on phase two to Orlando," the statement said. "We are currently finalizing permitting and should have a better idea of timing to Orlando after we begin operations this summer."
Construction on the segment to Orlando could take about two years, according to the Palm Beach Post.
All Aboard Florida plans to use existing but upgraded Florida East Coast Railway rail lines for the project, except for a new 40-mile rail line that will be built between Cocoa and Orlando International Airport.
Both companies are owned by Fortress Investment Group LLC.
On Feb. 15, Japan's SoftBank Group Corp. and Fortress Investment Group announced entering into a definitive merger agreement under which SoftBank will acquire Fortress for approximately $3.3 billion in cash.
Fortress will operate within SoftBank as an independent business headquartered in New York, according to a joint press release.
The transaction is subject to approval by Fortress shareholders, certain regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions, and is expected to close in the second half of 2017.
All Aboard Florida officials have not commented on the merger.