Location / Name:
Minneapolis MN, Hennepin County
Blue Line Light Rail System
Green Line Light Rail System
Northstar Regional Commuter Rail
GPS Coordinates: as needed
Access by train/transit:
Amtrak in St Paul
This page covers the Metro Blue Line Light Rail system, formally
known as the Route 55 Hiawatha Line that
runs in Minneapolis MN. The system currently runs from downtown
at Target Field (the former north end was one station away at Hennepin Ave)
to the Mall of America in Bloomington.
The system has 19 stations, and service starts at 03:32 at the Franklin station
heading south to the Mall of America. Service from Target Field starts
at 04:02. Service runs till 01:53, giving the "T' roughly an
hour and a half to perform critical maintenance.
Other Train Stuff:
The Northstar Commuter train (Route 888) has 5 AM
trains into Minneapolis at 05:01, 05:53, 06:21, 06:51, and 07:21.
There are 6 stations on the line, and travel time is about 50 minutes from end
to end. There is one evening train TO Minneapolis and it leaves at 17:06.
On Saturdays, there is one morning train to Minneapolis at 10:23, and one
afternoon train at 13:23. Leaving Minneapolis during the week there are
06:13, 15:57, 16:27, 16:57, 17:27, and 18:15... on Saturday's trains are at 11:30 and 16:00.
If you happen to live in or near Minneapolis, there is an enormous amount of railfanning
to keep you busy for at least a week or more if you so choose. I consider the twin cities
area of Minneapolis and St Paul one of the better railfan areas around!
You have the Union Pacific, BNSF, CP
Rail, the Twin Cities and Western, Amtrak, and last, but not least, the
Minnesota Commercial. The MC is railfan friendly, and will let you wander
the yard, as long as you promise to stay off stuff and sign a release (at least
they were that way the last time I was there in 2006). Formerly an all
Alco railroad, they have started buying stuff other than Alco equipment.
Within a three hour (or so) drive
from the Twin Cities area, you also have the Iowa Traction in Mason City, and
the Missabe up to the north in Duluth, among others. Guides for
and Albert Lea
are available. Other towns of interest include Mankato (southwest),
Cloquet (northwest, on the way to Duluth, home of the
Terminal Railroad ), Two Harbors (north of Duluth), Proctor (home to the
Missabe), Hastings (southeast, nice river crossing), Glencoe (southwest, home to
the TC&W), and Waseca (southwest, office for
Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
The above map in a PDF,
below is the "T's" version of the system map.
At the Shops
As seen on the map, the shops are just north of Franklin Ave.
Tracks lead into the yard from both the north and south ends, and there is a
loop on the north side of the yard, adjacent to the Cedar Riverside station.
A couple pictures in Light Rail Control.
Training Signal in one of the classrooms.
Down in the shops area, and one of the door operators.
Down in the signal maintenance area of the shops. The signals are made by GRS.
Powered and unpowered trucks, and the disc brakes.
The service bays.
the Minnehaha Depot
I have some close-ups of the depot if I ever get a decent
The designers of the Minneapolis Light Rail System choose to
use mostly traditional transit system style signals. There are a few
standard 3 color light signals around. A couple of them are by the shops,
one on mainline, on in the yard on the back of the shops, another is located
just south of downtown where the R-O-W crosses 62, and a forth one that I
noticed was down near the Mall. The signals are manufactured by Safetran.
Where the right-of-way has to run alongside roads or
otherwise mix with vehicular traffic (as in 34th St), they use white LED bar
signals, similar to what Houston uses throughout their whole system.
The signals are not traditionally numbered. They are
even numbered from the north end. There are no odd numbered signals.
The only reason the signals are numbered at all is so the operators can call in
to the Operation Center when a signal is malfunctioning or a bulb is out, and
have some reference number. I haven't been there since 2006, so I don't
know how they handled the expansion north of Hennepin Ave.
A couple of shots of one of the signals in the tunnel at the Lindbergh Terminal stop.
One of the yard signals, this one is for the south end loop as it comes around and enters the yard tracks.
Northbound signal for the southbound track, by the shops.
A single aspect head.
On the streets, they use a two aspect semaphore style indicator, using white LEDS.
Station by Station
There are 19 stations on the Blue Line, the first five on the north end are shared with the Green Line trains.
- Pix Along 5th St -
Warehouse District / Hennepin Ave
Downtown East / Metrodome
- Cedar Riverside Junction -
Cedar - Riverside
Lake St / Midtown
50th St / Minnehaha Park
VA Medical Center
Airport / Linburgh Terminal
Airport / Humphrey Terminal
Mall of America
Target Field Station
The Target Field Station opened in 2009 to allow commuters
easy access to the Northstar Commuter Rail Line.
As of this date (the end of 2011), Google wins in the aerial photo category, as
Bing has not updated their fly-by pictures yet. The light rail station is
right at the commuter rail station, and goes into a short single track section
before going into a double track stub... my guess is that it was easier and
cheaper to do this than build a double crossover.
Before the new stadium
Along 5th St
Warehouse District / Hennepin Ave Station
At the former north end of the line at Hennepin Ave, looking north. #120 on the left
just pulled in, #109 on the right ready to leave.
At Hennepin Ave, looking south.
Nicollet Mall Station
Government Plaza Station
Downtown East / Metrodome Station
Blue Line / Green Line Junction
Here is the junction between the Blue and Green lines, I think one or two
double-slip switches could have replaced that maze of crossovers! :-):
Cedar - Riverside Station
Franklin Ave Station
Dateline 2021 - Looks like a lot of changes have been made in both the station and the
surrounding area since I did my first guide back in 2006! :-)
SB #122 at Franklin Ave
Lake St / Midtown Station
38th St Station
46th St Station
Short Tunnel along Hiawatha Ave
As part of the construction of the light rail system, an
extension of the park was put over the R-O-W and Hiawatha Blvd. The
Minnehaha Depot is just south of the tunnels, as can be seen below.
50th St / Minnehaha Park
NB #108 at (I think) the 50th St Station, along Hiawatha Ave.
VA Medical Center Station
Bridge over 62/Crosstown Hwy & 55/Hiawatha Ave
Both sides of the bridge offer great shots, depending on the time of the day and the sun....
Fort Snelling Station
There are two stations for the MSP airport: the Lindbergh Terminal, and the Humphrey
Terminal. The Humphrey Terminal is on the surface, while the Lindbergh Terminal is below ground.
RIP Northwest Airlines - that's how I used to get to Minneapolis :-)
Airport / Lindbergh Terminal Station
Service between Lindbergh and Humphrey is free, and a shuttle runs 24 hours a day.
#111 at the Lindberg Terminal Station.
Airport / Humphrey Terminal Station
American Blvd Station
No-one yet has an aerial shot of this station, this snapshot is from Google maps, the others are from Bing.
Bloomington Central Station
A lot of changes have been made here too, and a very attractive park has been built
in what used to be the parking lot for the station, it's almost a destination in
and of itself :-).
28th Ave Station
At the Mall of America
The Mall of America, being the international tourist draw
it is, was a smart decision for the designers to include as a destination on the
system. Many interesting photo ops exist in, under, and around the
mall.... and when you get tired of taking pictures, take in the mall just to say
you were there, it's most impressive.
Unique folding crossing gate arm because of the low clearance.
Impressive Mall for sure, complete with an indoor amusement park, four floors of shopping, giant Lego animals, and an aquarium!
An LRV just leaving the Mall of America Station.
Switches, Catenary, Signs, and Other Stuff