Welcome to Photo Line! The commuter rail rennaisance has reached the American Midwest with the arrival of MetroTransit's Northstar commuter line. Metro Transit operates a pair of routes connecting Minneapolis to with surrounding suburbs. With construction beginning soon for a third segment to Saint Paul, the Twin Cities will be an even better place to railfan. Tag along as we explore this growing transit system in Minnesota with native photographer Nick Benson.
Northstar at Nicollet Island
A "Twins Special" blasts across the Mississippi River onto Nicollet Island after Minnesota staged an exciting ninth inning rally to trump the White Sox at Target Field. MNRX 501 is the only locomotive in the Nortstar stable that has red safety striping covering the entire snowplow from top to bottom.
The action effect here is achieved with a technique called "zoom panning," where the camera pans from side to side to follow the subject, the zoom is pulled out to keep the size of the subject the same as it approaches, and the shutter is held open longer than usual (1/30th of a second, in this case) to capture the blur of all of that motion. Canon 40D + Sigma 17-70mm. 1/30”, ISO 250, f/25
Northstar Numero Uno
The first regularly scheduled revenue passenger train to arrive in downtown Minneapolis in over thirty years waits at Target Field Station; in a few minutes it will also be the first to depart. A good number of photographers (media and railfans alike) were on hand to witness this historic event during the early hours of November 16, 2009. Canon 40D + Canon 70-200mm f/4 L at 200mm. 15”, ISO 100, f/16
First Day of Service at Target Field Station
A light rail train arrives on the first morning of regular operations at Target Field Station on November 16, 2009. Target Field Station is the hub between the Northstar commuter rail, which runs under the bridge we’re standing on, and the Hiawatha Line light rail in the foreground. A set of escalators connect the two platforms allowing passengers to make easy connections from one mode to another. Canon 40D + Canon 10-22mm at 11mm. 1/15”, ISO 400, f/5.0
Courtesy, Respect and Common Sense
Several Metro Transit Police look on the first public Northstar train is filled with passengers (who won free tickets via a lottery) prepares to depart. The Transit Police here have repeatedly demonstrated courtesy and respect with regards to photographer’s rights; railfans here need not worry about getting hassled. This public demonstration ran on November 14, 2009, two days before the new service made its official debut. Canon 40D + Canon 10-22mm at 19mm. 1/500”, ISO 100, f/5.6
Sun Country Airlines Ad Wrap
Transit advertising wraps can be a blessing or a curse depending on your tastes and the design of the ad in question. Either way, they provide some visual variety to the parade of Bombardier Flexity Swifts. In this case the first articulated train car is promoting Sun Country Airlines; the trailing set is for NWA World Vacations. This excellent location is along Minnehaha Avenue in Minneapolis, a short hike north of the VA Medical Center Station on the Hiawatha Line. June 13, 2009. Canon 40D + Sigma 17-70mm at 23mm. 1/500”, ISO 100, f/5.6
Hiawatha Line Reflections
A Bloomington-bound train on the Hiawatha Line is departing on schedule from Nicollet Mall Station. The reflection is courtesy of the Soo Line Building, where the majority of Canadian Pacific’s US system is dispatched. The photographer received some strange looks while he was polishing bits of grime and gunk off of the granite, but the results were worth it on this November evening in 2009. Canon 40D + Canon 10-22mm at 17mm. 2.5”, ISO 200, f/13.
Northstar Northbound at Northtown
The Saint Anthony Parkway Bridge has been a favorite location for Twin Cities train enthusiasts ever since it was built in 1925. A renovation project is currently scheduled for 2011-2012, the purpose of which is to “include updated amenities for non-motorized users.” Hopefully this great location will be made even better after the renovation! An outbound Northstar train is skirting the T Yard at BNSF’s Northtown facility on November 21, 2009. Canon 40D + Canon 10-22mm at 10mm. 1/640”, ISO 100, f/5.6
Pleasant June weather has drawn out many folks eager to enjoy the warm temperatures. A cyclist prepares to board the Hiawatha Line at Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue Station in Minneapolis. Each articulated light rail car has seating capacity for 66, space for four bicycles, and standing room for another 120. Most trains run with two cars, sometimes three during peak demand. Canon 40D + Sigma 17-70mm at 17mm. 1/640”, ISO 100, f/5.6
Minneapolis and the Mississippi
An outbound "Twins Special" heads across the Mississippi River with downtown Minneapolis looming in the background. The hike up and down the steep embankment and drive home in soaking wet shoes and pants was very much worth it on this day in May! Canon 40D + Canon 10-22mm at 10mm. 1/500”, ISO 350, f/9.0