The Metro Transit Light Rail Pages

Opening weekend and unit 114 leaves 50th Street (Minnehaha Park) for downtown Minneapolis

This is my website celebrating the Minneapolis Metro Transit Light Rail "Hiawatha line". The line was opened from Downtown Minneapolis to Fort Snelling on July 26th 2004 and all the way through to the Mall of America on December 4th 2004

Opening weekend - June 26th - 27th 2004
A selection of pictures taken on Sunday afternoon of the opening weekend. We journeyed from the Downtown station to 50th Street where we strolled over to take a look at Minnehaha Falls before journeying back. As you can see from the pictures it was a pretty busy day. Click on each picture and a larger version will open in a new window.




 The Hiawatha Line
The route is named for Hiawatha Avenue which the line follows for much of its journey and extends 12.1 miles from the downtown warehouse district of Minneapolis to the Mall of America connecting with The Minneapolis Airports Lindberg and Humphrey terminals. The first stage of the line was opened for public service on June 26th 2004 as far as Fort Snelling. The full length of the line to the MOA was opened in December of the same year. Both the opening of the line to Fort Snelling and opening of the full line was celebrated by two days of free travel on Metro Transit. The Line has 17 stations along the route and typically the journey time between each station is 2 - 4 minutes. Though the lines construction was marked by scepticism and doubt, the sucess of the line in terms of ridership has done much to silence the critics. So much so that a couple of extensions to the line are proposed. Firstly, the line will be extended a couple of blocks at the northern end to the site of the new Minnesota Twins baseball stadium. This will aslo allow it to make a connection with the forthcoming North Star commuter line from Big Lake and Elk River. A plan is also in the pipeline to extend the line south from the Mall of America to the suburb of Lakeville.

On the way - More details and scenes from the line

 The Tramcars
The Hiawatha Line uses Flexity Swift Trams made by Bombardier Transport. Powered from an overhead line they are capable of reaching speeds approaching 55mph (of that I can confirm having been seated behind the driver and peered through the blinds.) Though in normal service the top speed is 40mph on the reserved track beyond the Metrodome. Of course, in the downtown where the trams share the road speeds are much slower. The trams are quiet, smooth in operation and accelerate very well. The design is known as a 70% low floor design. That means that 70% of the cars floor is about 14" from the ground. This means they are level with the platform surfaces which allows for easy access for the elderly, infirm and those in wheelchairs. This is also advantageous for cyclists as there are cycle racks inside the cars should a cyclist start or finish his trip on the Light Rail. The Hiawatha line is the first line in the USA to use the Flexity Swift design. Twenty four of which were originally ordered. The Hiawatha version of the Swift car differs slightly from the usual design in that the nose is more curved and there also appears to be some kind of small snow plough at the front too.

A photographic study of the roster of the lines tramcars will be appearing here in t\he near future

Coming Soon for the Twin Cities? The Central Corridor Line
The next major step for Metro Transit is the construction of the Central Corridor line between the downtowns of Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Preliminary engineering work is taking place now with construction expected to start in 2010 and completion scheduled for 2014. The Line will start at the future multi modal station by the new Minnesota Twins Baseball stadium and will share the Hiawatha line rails as far as the Metrodome. From there it will branch off northwards crossing the Mississippi before following University and Washington avenues heading to Saint Paul where it is planned to finish at the Union Depot. The line will be about 11 miles long.

Some Hiawatha Line related links
Metro Transit Hiawatha Line website The Subway Nuts gallery of Hiawatha line photos   Bombardier website

Disclaimer: (c) 2007 This website and all the images contained herein are the copyright of Ian Holmes and may not be reproduced without permission

email: ian AT