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The massive station is rising. But the train service is not quite ready to roll

Brightline's Miami Central Station nears final construction

The Miami Central Station of Brightline nears final construction in downtown Miami on August 7, 2017.
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The Miami Central Station of Brightline nears final construction in downtown Miami on August 7, 2017.

The much-anticipated Brightline trains will be rolling into stations a little later than expected.

Florida East Coast Industries’ $3 billion high-speed rail service connecting West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Miami is now scheduled to begin by the end of 2017.

Trains from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale were originally due to launch in the summer. The Fort Lauderdale-Miami extension had been pegged to start in the fall.

David Howard, CEO of Brightline, said he won’t announce a concrete launch date until the last piece of track has been laid down and all of the complex project’s pieces are in place.

“I would rather wait than to give you a specific date now and then have to postpone it later,” Howard said during a tour of the sprawling MiamiCentral station in downtown Miami on Monday.

MiamiCentral, which will house a 50,000-square-foot food hall and 130,000 square feet of retail space, spans six city blocks along NW First Avenue from Third to Eighth Streets. Two towers of 800 rental apartments, to be branded Parkline, are in the planning stages. A building with 90,000 square feet of office space is nearly complete, with tenants to include Ernst & Young and the Cisneros Group.

Bright Green - Design District 2
One of Brightline’s trains taking a test run through Miami’s Design District last week. FLORIDA EAST COAST INDUSTRIES

Brightline has been conducting test runs of four of its trains over the last few months in West Palm Beach. Last week, the company began running trains through the Miami corridor for the first time.

When completed, the West Palm Beach-Fort Lauderdale-Miami service will form Brightline’s Phase I. Phase II, which will extend train service to Orlando, is currently scheduled to launch in 2020.

Rene Rodriguez: 305-376-3611, @ReneMiamiHerald