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Job description: As director of the Operations Control Center (OCC) of the Brightline intercity passenger-rail service in southeastern Florida, Lefevre designed and implemented procedures for monitoring, reporting and streamlining daily operations. With the support of the five teammates who staff the OCC, Lefevre is responsible for delivering real-time updates on train performance, fielding all situational calls from Brightline trains and stations, and initiating schedule changes as necessary.
Education: Bachelor of Arts degree, Duke University
Nominator’s quote: “Michael has changed the working relationship for the better between the railroad community and the people and officials in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The collegial approach [he took] to accomplish this goal is a good example for other railroad improvement projects to follow, be they passenger or freight.” — Olivier Picq, Brightline
How did you end up in the railroad business?
I was lucky enough to grow up in Philadelphia, a city that has great rail transit. I rode Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority’s (SEPTA) commuter rail to and from school every day and realized over time how much railroads offer the public. In college, I interned for SEPTA, then began my career at CSX in network planning, running rail traffic controller models to identify capital projects that would improve the railroad’s capacity. While in Jacksonville, Florida, I learned about a company in Miami putting together a small team to start a private intercity passenger railroad, and I knew I had to be part of that team. I was hired by All Aboard Florida (now Brightline) in 2013 and have been part of the company since the earliest stages of the project.
What career accomplishment are you most proud of so far?
I once closed a grade crossing. It was at a propane facility on a curve, next to a marina and a gas station. It won't go on my resume, but I think the world is a safer place for us having closed it.
What inspires you?
I've had the privilege of working for great leaders, most notably the passenger-rail legend Gene Skoropowski. I’m inspired by Gene’s dogged commitment to building great passenger rail in this country and moved by the kindness he affords to every single person he works with.
What is a little-known fact about you?
I was a historical re-enactor in high school.
What do you enjoying doing when you're not at work?
I have a 1977 cabin cruiser that I’ve been restoring since high school. It floats, and sometimes runs. I also have a 2016 terrier mix. He runs, and sometimes floats.
What would you say to convince someone to consider railroading as a career?
If you can run a railroad, you can run anything. Airlines have planes, but they don’t own airports and they don’t own the sky. Shippers have boats, but they don’t own ports and they don’t own the ocean. Railroads are different: They own the trains, they own the tracks and they own the terminals. They are unique systems — really more like cities than companies — with departments that operate, plan, market and police their networks. Who else offers that at a career fair?
What do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Brightline has created a model for successful private intercity passenger railroads. In five years, I hope we are able to introduce this model to a new set of cities, and provide them with the same connectivity we brought to Florida. Wherever Brightline sets up next, I want to be on that team and do it all over again.
Arthur Adams Jr.
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Belt Railway Co. of Chicago
National Transportation Safety Board
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