North Star (train)
|Service type||Inter-city rail|
|Locale||Midwestern United States|
|Predecessor||Arrowhead/Twin Cities Hiawatha|
|First service||April 30, 1978|
|Last service||April 7, 1985|
|Start||Chicago, Illinois (1978–1981)
Saint Paul, Minnesota (1981–1985)
|Distance travelled||573 mi (922 km) (1978–1981)
153 mi (246 km) (1981–1985)
|Train number(s)||9, 10|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Track owner(s)||MILW, BN|
The North Star was a passenger train operated by Amtrak along the "Hiawatha Corridor" during the late 1970s and early- to mid-1980s. It originally operated as a Chicago, Illinois–Duluth, Minnesota train via Saint Paul, Minnesota, but was soon converted to a Saint Paul–Duluth local. The service relied in part on funding from the state of Minnesota.
The North Star was introduced in the spring of 1978, when Amtrak moved Twin Cities operations from the Great Northern Depot in Minneapolis to Midway station in Saint Paul and combined the previous Chicago–Minneapolis Twin Cities Hiawatha and the Minneapolis–Duluth Arrowhead services into one train. Where the Arrowhead was a 148-mile (238 km) local, the North Star was a 573-mile (922 km) sleeper originating in Chicago, Illinois, departing there at 10:30 PM in the initial schedule. It took 8 hours 45 minutes to reach Saint Paul, where there was a 35-minute layover. It then took another 3:45 to reach Duluth for an overall schedule of just over 13 hours from Chicago.
Three other trains shared parts of the North Star route: the quad-weekly Empire Builder (Chicago–Portland, Oregon/Seattle, Washington via the Milwaukee Road), the thrice-weekly North Coast Hiawatha (Chicago–Portland, Oregon/Seattle, Washington via the Northern Pacific), and the daily Turboliner (Chicago–Milwaukee).:31 The Empire Builder became a daily train again in 1979 when the North Coast Hiawatha was eliminated.:166
There were perennial budget battles involving the North Star. In October 1981 cost-cutting measures forced the service to be converted to a Twin Cities–Duluth local, which left the daily Empire Builder as the only Chicago–Twin Cities connection. However, no effort was made to link the schedules of the two trains. At this time, the schedule was 3 hours 35 minutes from Saint Paul to Duluth. It briefly stopped service in September 1982 when Amtrak requested $27,000 in funding to keep it operating as a weekend and peak period train. Duluth businessman Jeno Paulucci offered a $25,000 donation, with the rest intended to be covered from some other source. U.S. Senator David Durenberger (R-MN) also requested that Amtrak run a financial audit, which uncovered an extra $100,000 in available funds.
By the end of service in 1985, the North Star was no longer planned to serve Superior, Wisconsin and was only making intermediate stops in Cambridge and Sandstone. State funding for the train was set to run out in March 1985, and the train made its final run on April 7, 1985.:191
See also 
- North Shore Scenic Railroad
- Northern Lights Express, a proposed restoration of passenger rail service between the Twin Cities and Duluth
- "National Train Timetables, Effective January 8, 1978". The Museum of Railway Timetables. Amtrak. 1978. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
- "National Train Timetables, Effective April 30, 1978". The Museum of Railway Timetables. Amtrak. 1978. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
- Goldberg, Bruce (1981). Amtrak: The First Decade. Silver Spring, MD: Alan Books.
- Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34705-X.
- "October 25, 1981". Amtrak Chicago-Milwaukee Corridor Timetable Timeline. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- "National Train Timetables, Effective October 25, 1981". The Museum of Railway Timetables. Amtrak. 1981. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
- "Duluth North Star Amtrak's last run (9-6-1982 & 9-8-1982)". WTCN-TV and KSTP-TV. September 1982. Retrieved September 25, 2010.
- "National Train Timetables, Effective April 28, 1985 through October 26, 1985". The Museum of Railway Timetables. Amtrak. 1985. Retrieved September 24, 2010.