North Star (train)
The North Star at the Superior Depot
|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 (the National Railroad Passenger Corporation) 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 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 (equivalent to $65,982 in 2015) in funding to keep it operating as a weekend and peak period train. Duluth businessman Jeno Paulucci offered a $25,000 (equivalent to $61,095 in 2015) 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 (equivalent to $244,379 in 2015) 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
- North Shore Scenic Railroad
- Northern Lights Express, a proposed restoration of passenger rail service between the Twin Cities and Duluth
- Amtrak (8 Jan 1978). "Amtrak National Train Timetables" (PDF). timetables.org. The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 37. Retrieved 6 Nov 2014.
- Amtrak (30 Apr 1978). "Amtrak National Train Timetables" (PDF). timetables.org. The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 37. Retrieved 6 Nov 2014.
- Goldberg, Bruce (1981). Amtrak--the first decade. Silver Spring, MD: Alan Books. OCLC 7925036.
- Sanders, Craig (2006). Amtrak in the Heartland. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-34705-X. OCLC 61499942.
- "Amtrak Chicago-Milwaukee Corridor Timetable Timeline". ancestry.com. 25 Oct 1981. Retrieved 4 Feb 2009.[dead link]
- Amtrak (25 Oct 1981). "Amtrak National Train Timetables" (PDF). timetables.org. The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 42. Retrieved 6 Nov 2014.
- "Duluth North Star Amtrak's last run (9-6-1982 & 9-8-1982)". WTCN-TV and KSTP-TV. Sep 1982. Retrieved 25 Sep 2010.
- Amtrak (28 Oct 1984). "Amtrak National Train Timetables" (PDF). timetables.org. The Museum of Railway Timetables. p. 49. Retrieved 6 Nov 2014.