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Rail Trip Report-Minnesota's Northstar Rail Line

Mon May 31, 2010 12:27 am

The Northstar Commuter rail line runs from Minneapolis to Big Lake, but hopefully soon it will be expanded to St. Cloud. The rail line was opened in November of last year but now I finally got to experience Minnesota's new commuter rail line.

My mom and I took the light rail from Bloomington to Target Field and then went to the Northstar station which is right under the light rail station. There is plenty of space around the Target Field station for a transit hub, which is being proposed. The train left Target Field on time at 1:20. About twenty minutes later we were already in Fridley. We got off the train at the Elk River station. The train ride was very comfortable. There weren't many people on the train but hopefully ridership will increase in the summer. Around the station there was nothing but a big parking lot, some apartments, dealerships, and a gas station. So we went to the Super America gas station for a quick snack and then went back to the station. Hopefully shops and restaurants will be built around the stations to get a little increase in ridership. Northstar sometimes has trains for certain Twins games at Target Field. Trains for Twins games are nearly or completely full. Our train going back to Minneapolis was carrying quite a lot of people going to the Twins game. The train arrived at the Elk River station at 2:55. The train was actually going faster than cars on the highway (in America, that can be surprising). After arriving at the Target Field station we went back home on the light rail.

Here is a video of my trip:

I hope that we will continue to build and improve passenger rail in Minnesota. Construction for light rail going from Minneapolis to St. Paul has been scheduled, and the line should open in 2014. Target Field and St. Paul's Union Depot will be Minneapolis and St. Paul's transit hub as more light rail, commuter rail, and high speed rail is built. It seems like ten years ago, people would say light rail in Minneapolis would probably never happen, but times have changed and these new passenger rail lines will improve Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Minnesota.
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RE: Rail Trip Report-Minnesota's Northstar Rail Line

Mon May 31, 2010 2:43 pm

Quoting af773atmsp (Thread starter):
The train was actually going faster than cars on the highway (in America, that can be surprising).

Thanks for the report. I have seen pics and videos of this train. I believe they have the same cars as Sounder that runs between Seattle and either Everett or Tacoma in Washington State. What gets me is: both commuter rail and light rail generally do go faster than traffic, yet people insist on driving during rush/commute hours. When I lived in Portland, there were many times when I had to go downtown in the morning from the East Side, so I hopped on MAX (light rail) and just laughed at all the people stuck on the Banfield Freeway! Same thing here in the Bay Area with BART.
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RE: Rail Trip Report-Minnesota's Northstar Rail Line

Mon May 31, 2010 3:13 pm

Cool, I am a native Minnesotan living in Texas for almost 20 years and was unaware of this (despite my numerous trips back home every year). While I live in Houston, the folks in the Dallas/Ft Worth area have a similar setup that runs between the 2 cities, known as the Trinity Rail Express (TRE) and connects with the DART light rail system, I have used this service on numerous occasions while in Dallas and it is not too shabby.

I sorely wish something similar was in place in the Houston area.

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