Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

About Railroads in Minnesota


Freigth Train

State Rail Plan

Now in process for its federally mandated five-year update, the Minnesota State Rail Plan will provide an overall vision for effective use of the state’s freight and passenger rail network and its future development. The plan will identify priority rail corridors, programs, and projects that offer effective improvements or expansion for passenger and freight travel in and out of Minnesota. More information about the State Rail Plan

Freight Rail

Minnesota’s freight railroads form a critical part of the State’s multimodal transportation system. Many of the state’s major industries rely on the rail system for efficient delivery of goods. The freight rail system is particularly critical in providing efficient connections to markets beyond state borders, throughout North America, and to the world through the seaports on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, and the Great Lakes. Rail provides critical options to shippers in terms of market access, modal economics, and service. Minnesota has 4,444 route miles of railroads serviced by 20 railroad companies. More about freight rail

Crude By Rail / Rail Safety Improvement Study

The 2014 Minnesota Legislature directed the Minnesota Department of Transportation to conduct a study of highway-rail grade crossings improvements for rail corridors carrying unit trains of crude oil and other hazardous materials. The legislature also appropriated $2 million for implementation of safety improvements at these grade crossings specifically along crude-by-rail corridors. It is estimated that this appropriation will fund the installation of approximately 10 lower cost grade crossing improvements.

Passenger Rail

Minnesota currently has one active intercity passenger rail service – Amtrak’s Empire Builder which provides service between Chicago and points west. The first Minnesota Comprehensive Statewide Freight and Passenger Rail Plan (adopted in February 2010) identifies several regional corridors for possible future intercity passenger rail service that would link the Twin Cities with outlying locations in Greater Minnesota and the upper Midwest. More information about passenger rail

Rail Transit

Rail transit services typically operate in urban regions, and generally serve commuters traveling to and from work. Light Rail Transit (LRT) typically operates with frequent stops spaced one-half-mile to one-mile apart in dense urban environments at speeds of 20 to 50 mph, with regular and continuous daily service. Commuter rail services typically connect urban centers with suburban populations over moderate distances with wider station spacing of 2 to 5 miles, higher speeds of 30 to 70 mph, and service concentrated on providing trips to and from work during weekday rush hours. Examples in Minnesota include Hiawatha LRT and Northstar Commuter Rail. More information about rail transit