Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Northern Lights Express

Proposed passenger rail service between Minneapolis and Duluth, MN

Hinckley Loop study

Study currently on hold

The Hinckley Loop Study is on hold awaiting the completion of the ridership forecasts being prepared for the overall NLX Project. Separate ridership forecasts for the Hinckley Loop Study are expected to be available by October 2014.


MnDOT, in cooperation with the Northern Lights Express Alliance and the Federal Railroad Administration, is examining the feasibility of an alternative station location on the NLX alignment. The Hinckley Loop study analyzes alternative alignments that would route the train from the existing track through downtown Hinckley to the Grand Casino, two miles to the east. In addition to route alignments, the study examines whether a direct link to the casino would result in sufficient ridership and revenue to justify the costs of constructing the loop.

Six alternative routes have been developed, each with a station location on the east side of the casino. The six alternative route options were presented to a group of area officials at a stakeholder engagement meeting in November 2013, where comments on the alternatives were collected. Consultant staff have narrowed down the alternatives to three alternatives and are recommending that they be advanced for further study. The three alternatives are evaluated against the no-build alternative of operating NLX trains on the existing BNSF corridor with a station stop in downtown Hinckley.


Click maps for larger PDF version.

NLX alternative route 2

NLX alternative route 4

NLX alternative route 5


The final study is expected to be completed in fall 2014. Click on the image for larger PDF version.

hinckley loop study timeline