Northstar Commuter Service Page 1

The Northstar commuter line is the first of its kind in the State of Minnesota. Originally planned to go from downtown Minneapolis to St. Cloud budgetary considerations mandated the line to temporarily terminate at Big Lake, some 40 miles from Minneapolis. The work was started around 2007 requiring extensive track, switch and station construction along the BNSF railroad, the tenant of the commuter line. Test trains started in late Spring, 2009 with scheduled test runs towards the end of summer. Originally the Fridley, Minnesota station was to be built later but last minute funding permitted that station to be added and completed in time for the grand opening on 14 November, 2009. The first official day of revenue service started on the following Monday, 16 November. On 21 November the first official weekend service started with record breaking crowds on the first inbound train.

This page will cover scenes from the early test trains in early July, 2009, early September, three stations on the opening ceremonies and the first weekend revenue run from Big Lake to Minneapolis and back on 21 November.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW - PAGE 2 - Northstar Feb. 2010 to the present update - CLICK HERE

 

 

Testing Northstar - Summer, 2009

firsttest1 The first westbound Northstar test train approachs Coon Rapids Station 2 July 2009
   
first wb2 Same train with unit 505 at Coon Rapids.
   
cabcar2jul Cab car 601 brings up the rear of the test train.
   
coonrapidssign Coon Rapids sign. All Northstar stations have similar signs.
   
elkriver Elk River Station 2 Sep 09 prior to opening of service.
   
test1bl The first of two test trains getting ready to leave Big Lake, MN on 2 September 2009. The second test train is in the background.
   
test2bl The second test train with unit 501 - the original MP36 with full striping on the pilot.
   
   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Opening 14 November 2009 -- Fridley Station

1stfridtrain First Northstar inbound train arrives at the brand new Fridley station to pick up the first passengers for their free ride to downtown Minneapolis and back.
   
bobgibbons Bob Gibbons, Director of Communications at Metro Transit watches the first Northstar train pull into Fridley station.
   
upperlevel Upper level of the new Bombarier commuter train at Fridley.
   
dadandson1 A father and son getting ready to take that very first trip on the Northstar train.
   
nscrew The Anoka County crew that helped make Northstar possible.
   
nsstaff A Northstar staff member from Anoka County welcomes you aboard the train.
   
nstraincrew The Northstar BNSF crew getting ready to leave Fridley Station.
   
todd1 Todd, the engineer is ready to get his train moving from Fridley.
   
503lvfridley MP36 503 pushes the first train away from Fridley. The next stop will be the downtown station at Twins Stadium.
   

Grand Opening at Anoka Station - 14 November 2009

anokaline Part of the long line waiting for free tickets at Anoka. There were a limited number of free rides available at each station.
   
crowdwaiting1 The crowd waits at Anoka to have access to the platform to board the first Anoka train. It was cold and windy; typical Minnesotsa but it did not dampen the spirits of the crowd.
   
ebexpr

An eastbound* Northstar express approaches the Anoka station most likely from Elk River. Trains ran non-stop from their station to downtown and back.

* Railroads only have two directions: east and west regardless of the compass direction a train is traveling.

   
ribcuting Getting ready to cut the ribbon at the Anoka station.
   
ribbon1 The ribbon is cut and Anoka is officially open! Bring on the crowds.
   
boarding1 The crowd starts to board the Northstar train at Anoka.
   
sideview503 A side view of one of the Northstar engines. Sharp! Never fear, Atheran will have the full train model out early 2009. Own your own Northstar!
   
503front The front (or rear, if you will) view of the Northstar MP36 unit 503 at Anoka.
   

Grand opening at Coon Rapids Station 14 November 2009

crcrowd1 Crowds waiting on platform to board the Northstar for their trip to Minneapolis and back.
   
wbcr Westbound Northstar heading back to where it started. The crowds at Coon Rapids can be seen on the glass bridge as well as on the westbound side waiting for the train.
   
morecrowds More crowds still waiting for their train with Metro Transit staff present on the platform.
   
ebcoonrpaids Finally, the inbound train is arriving at the Coon Rapids station for its load of passengers.
   
crboarding Eager crowds are boarding the Northstar for their first ride on the new train at Coon Rapids.
   
nsdepcr The inbound train pulls out of Coon Rapids stop right on time heading towards Minneapolis.
   
ns504cr MP36 unit 504 pushs the inbound Northstar from Coon Rapids to Minneapolis.
   
   
 

First weekend Northstar train from Big Lake to Twins Stadium - 21 November 2009

firstweekend First inblound train ready to leave Big Lake. Three of the five cars were already filled with passengers at this time.
   
tomeng Tom the engineer getting ready to get his train moving out of Big Lake.
   
tracks1 Just out of Big Lake the train is already speeding along the BNSF tracks.
   
dadandsonride Father and son on their first Northstar trip and first train ride for his son. A classic shot.
   
anokastation Another crowd waiting at Anoka. By this time all five cars were full.
   
controls What makes the train go - the control cab. A far cry from the older locomotives.
   
coonrapidscrowd Another crowd waiting to board - this time at Coon Rapids. It is estimated that over 1,500 passengers were on this train by the time it arrived at Twins Stadium Station.
   
passengers Two passengers dressed for the ride in the first car look out the front window of the cab. Any deer around?
   
inbbiglake Because of the heavy crowds on the first trip the first train headed back downtown right away from Big Lake.
   
504lvsbiglake Once again 504 is pushing its train back to Minneapolis on its second trip.
   
503pullingin 503 edges into Big Lake for the second section of the earlier train with only four cars.
   
tomcond Conductor Thomas announces that the train will be leaving in a minute.
   
toddbiglake Engineer Todd once again at the controls getting ready to head back into Minneapolis on the extra Northstar train.
   
503lvbiglake Engineer Todd is putting on the speed as extra 503 heads out of Big Lake on its way to Twins Stadium.
   

All pictures shown are copyright and may be downloaded only for private purposes. Those wishing to use these pictures on this website for commerical or on any other website must contact the webmaster stating purpose and website for approval. This site is independent and not affiliated with Metro Transit, Anoka County, BNSF or any other agency.

[c] 2009-2012

  NEW - PAGE 2 - Northstar Feb. 2010 to the present update - CLICK HERE
   
   
Last updated 22 December, 2011 0:00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NEW - PAGE 2 - Northstar Feb. 2010 to the present update - CLICK HERE