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Tomorrow, Metro Transit and BNSF Railway Co. will mark the 10th anniversary of Northstar commuter-rail service in Minneapolis.
On Nov. 16, 2009, Northstar launched service on a 40-mile line between downtown Minneapolis and Big Lake, Minnesota, on right of way owned by BNSF. Stations are located in Elk River, Ramsey, Anoka, Coon Rapids and Fridley. Northstar Link buses serve rail riders traveling to and from St. Cloud.
Commuter-rail line planning began in 1997, when the Northstar Corridor Development Authority was formed. Construction started in September 2007 to extend the Hiawatha light-rail line (now known as the Blue Line) to Target Field Station. Work on four new stations later began in spring 2008.
Some milestones over the past decade include the opening of Ramsey Station in November 2012; the introduction of onboard Wi-Fi service in September 2013; the installation of positive train control in September 2017; and the start of Big Lake Northstar Facility renovations in April 2019 to prep for updated passenger cars.
In 2016, a plan was proposed to extend the Northstar route 27 miles west to St. Cloud, but that project remains on hold.
In August 2019, Metro Transit issued a report stating that Northstar helped attract more than $66 million worth of multi-family developments within a half mile of the line’s stations between 2009 and 2017.