General Info
At the Shops
the Minnehaha Depot
Bridge over 55 & 62
At the Mall of America
Station by Station
Switches, etc


In General

Location / Name:
Minneapolis MN, Hennepin County

What's Here:
Blue Line Light Rail System
Green Line Light Rail System
Northstar Regional Commuter Rail

GPS Coordinates: as needed
Phone A/C:

Access by train/transit:
Listed above
Amtrak in St Paul

The Scoop:

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 Mason City and Albert Lea are available.  Other towns of interest include Mankato (southwest), Cloquet (northwest, on the way to Duluth, home of the Cloquet 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 the DM&E).

Mike Miller
Jim Mihalek

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:

System Maps

The above map in a PDF, below is the "T's" version of the system map.


    1        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.

    2        the Minnehaha Depot

I have some close-ups of the depot if I ever get a decent slide scanner.....


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.

Target Field
- Pix Along 5th St -
Warehouse District / Hennepin Ave
Nicollet Mall
Government Plaza
Downtown East / Metrodome
- Cedar Riverside Junction -
Cedar - Riverside
Franklin Ave
Lake St / Midtown
38th St
46th St
50th St / Minnehaha Park
VA Medical Center
Fort Snelling
Airport / Linburgh Terminal
Airport / Humphrey Terminal
American Blvd
Bloomington Central
28th Ave
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

  Around back.

  Around back.

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

The electric yard switches.

Speed-Frater by GRS/Alstom.... GRS came out with these back in the 50's.... updated by the T with LED's




LED indicators have replaced the supplied bulb units.  These things are about as quiet as can be.

Signal and Switch Logic in the yard


Test and Monitor Panels for the yard



Signal 42 tracking the LRV in the pix to the left.

Pictures of the catenary system.


          In the yard.

In the downtown area, they use a unique pole arrangement to house the counterweights.

        At (under) the Mall of America.

    In the tunnel at the Lindbergh station.

Crossing Gate Down Indicators.

You won't find many of these on the system, in contrast to the Baltimore system which uses them at every grade crossing.  They are steadily lit as the gates go down - and when down, they flash.  This is the opposite of how they function in Baltimore.  They use white LED's.


Station message board.


Minnehaha Depot

Scenes at the Mall of America

Impressive Mall for sure, complete with an indoor amusement park, four floors of shopping, giant Lego animals, and an aquarium! It was almost always my first stop after getting out of the airport, and the last stop before getting on a plane when leaving.




I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in :-)

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

Aerial shots were taken from either Google or Bing Maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given!  Please be NICE!!!  Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


NEW 10/10/2006, APR26/2016, OCT07/2021
Last Updated: 08 Oct 2021