Like highways, railroad tracks have been imported from TIGER data and they share the same problems like unconnected segments, wrong tagging, missing bridges and railroad crossings and positions that are frequently off quite a lot. So a TIGER Review is necessary as it is for highways.
This is a rather early (basic structure still incomplete, has many incomplete sections and errors) wiki for railroads, both freight and passenger, in Minnesota. Please bear with OSM as it continues to achieve completion; it is very much under construction. The passenger section is close to completion, though some passenger train relations still require some attention.
Lines that see regular rail traffic.
Try this Overpass Turbo query, noting that OT queries are easy to edit and change. For example, you could change "main" to "branch" or "industrial" and run the query again.
BNSF Railway Company (BNSF)
BNSF has 1,584 route miles in Minnesota.
|Brainerd Subdivision||BNSF||Staples - Brainerd - Aitkin - Carlton||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=main|
|Grand Forks Subdivision||BNSF||Grand Forks - Crookston - Erskine - Bemidji - Cass Lake||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=main|
|Hinckley Subdivision||BNSF||Town of Superior - Hinckley - Cambridge - Andover - Coon Rapids||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=main|
|Lakes Subdivision||BNSF||Cass Lake - Grand Rapids - Floodwood - Carlton - Superior||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=main|
|Marshall Subdivision||BNSF||Willmar - Granite Falls - Hanley Falls - Marshall - Pipestone - Garretson, South Dakota - Hills - Sioux Center, South Dakota - Sioux City, South Dakota||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=main|
|Midway Subdivision||BNSF||Minneapolis (near Shoreham Yard) - Saint Paul (near Indian Mounds Regional Park)||Largely TIGER Reviewed||Tagged usage=main|
|Noyes Subdivision (BNSF)||BNSF||Noyes at North Dakota/Manitoba line/Canadian border - Hallock - Stephen - Warren - Crookston||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=branch|
|Staples Subdivision||BNSF||KO Subdivision near Fargo, North Dakota/Minnesota line - Hawley - Detroit Lakes - Perham - New York Mills - Staples - Little Falls - Saint Cloud - Big Lake - Elk River - Anoka - Minneapolis Target Field||Partially TIGER Reviewed||Tagged usage=main|
Canadian National (CN)
425 miles in Minnesota, though it also has WC as a subsidiary (below).
|Sprague Subdivision||CN||Rainy River, Ontario, Canada - Canada Line - Baudette - Warroad - Canada Line/Manitoba - Sprague, Manitoba - Winnipeg, Manitoba (Symington Yards)||Needs TIGER Review on Minnesota segments||Tagged usage=main.|
Wisconsin Central Ltd. (WC)
28 miles in Minnesota. A railroad subsidiary of the Canadian National Railway which was spun off of from the Soo Line.
|Soo Line||CN (WC)||Saint Paul (Paynesville Subdivision, near Shoreham Yard - New Richmond - Wisconsin line||Needs TIGER Review on Minnesota segments||Tagged usage=main.|
Canadian Pacific (CPRS, frequently abbreviated CP)
Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern RR (DME)
? miles. A Class II railroad and a subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway operating across South Dakota and southern Minnesota. Portions of the railroad also extend into Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois.
|Tracy Subdivision||CP||Waseca - Mankato - New Ulm - Tracy||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=main. There is a gap through the western and the eastern segments of this through Mankato, though CP (DME's owner) enjoys trackage rights across UP's Mankato Subdivision here.|
|Waseca Subdivision||CP||Winona (Minnesota City) - Rochester - Owatonna - Waseca||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=main|
Northern Plains Railroad (NPR)
? miles. A Class III railroad and a subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway operating across North Dakota and western Minnesota.
|Devil's Lake Subdivision||Northern Plains Railroad||Thief River Falls (Dakota Jct.) - Warren - North Dakota Line - Fordville, North Dakota - Devil's Lake, North Dakota||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=branch|
Soo Line (SOO)
A Class I railroad and a subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific Railway operating across Minnesota (from New Albin, Iowa to Noyes and Emerson, Manitoba, Canada).
|Noyes Subdivision (CP)||CP (SOO)||Emerson, Manitoba, Canada - Canada Line - Noyes - Thief River Falls (Dakota Jct.)||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=main|
Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern (RCPE)
RCPE is a Class II railroad owned by Genesee & Wyoming, a "railroad holding company." RCPE owns 74.6 miles of track in Minnesota, connecting to South Dakota. RCPE interchanges with CP at Tracy and has trackage rights on CP's Tracy Subdivision to interchange with UP in Mankato. Westerly, follow RCPE's Huron Subdivision, Pierre Subdivision, PRC Subdivision and the southerly segment of its RCPE Black Hills Subdivision to Dakota Jct. (near Chadron, Nebraska). Then, a short jaunt (33.1 km / 20.6 miles) on RCPE's Chadron Subdivision branch line allows BNSF interchange in Crawford, Nebraska, connecting with BNSF's Butte Subdivision mainline to points south, north and easterly through central Nebraska and Platte River Valley.
|Huron Subdivision||RCPE||Tracy - Balaton - Lake Benton - Verdi - South Dakota Line - Brookings, South Dakota - Huron, South Dakota||Partially TIGER Reviewed||Tagged usage=main|
Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
UP owns 435 miles of track in Minnesota and operates over an additional 203 miles through trackage rights.
|Mankato Subdivision||UP||Saint Paul - Jordan - Mankato - Saint James - Butterfield||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=main|
|Albert Lea Subdivision||UP||Saint Paul (Amtrak®) - Northfield - Fairbault - Owatonna - Albert Lea - Mason City, Iowa||Needs TIGER Review||Tagged usage=main. Needs its elements "untangled" and better name tagged: some are named "Albert Lea Subdivision," some are named "Union Pacific Railroad," some are named "Candadian Pacific Railway," some are unnamed.|
Class III railroads
Additional Class III and Private Railroads only just beginning to be sorted out and entered/better tagged both in OSM and in this wiki:
CTRR - Cloquet Terminal
LSMR - Lake Superior & Mississippi
MDW - Minnesota, Dakota & Western
MNN - Minnesota Northern
MNNR - Minnesota Commercial
MPLI - Minnesota Prairie Line
MSWY - Minnesota Southern
NLR - Northern Lines
NPR - Northern Plains
NMCZ - North Shore Mining
NSSR - North Shore Scenic
OTVR - Otter Tail Valley
PGR - Progressive Rail
RRVW - Red River Valley & Western
SCXY - Saint Croix Valley
TCWR - Twin Cities & Western
ZLTV - LTV Steel Mining
A railtrail uses a former railroad right-of-way (ROW) for equestrian, bicycle or hiking paths, preserving the ROW for possible future re-use as a railway while providing a useful service in the meantime. These are often tagged highway=cycleway or highway=footway depending on whether they prefer or allow bicycle or pedestrian traffic. It is OK to tag both railway=abandoned and highway=cycleway if it is the case that an abandoned railway became a railtrail (for bicycle use, for example). Where a (multi-use) pathway is designated for pedestrians but also allows bicycles, tag highway=footway and bicycle=yes.
Tracks and stations used for passenger train routes are correctly collected into route=train relations. There is an earlier (with simpler structure) "version 1" method to do this that involves simply "tracks and stations" being in the relation. There is a later "version 2" method which is more complex and requires the exact stop position of the train, platforms for passengers, full "directionality" for each aspect of the train's travel, and a super-relation to tie these together. Please see this wiki section for full details on how to "upgrade" a public_transport:version=1 route=train relation to public_transport:version=2.
Try OpenPublicTransportMap (OPTM): it displays passenger rail in route=train relations. At closer zooms, OPTM also displays route=light_rail, route=subway, route=tram, route=monorail, route=funicular, route=bus, route=trolleybus, route=aerialway and route=ferry with colors similar to ORM. Please compare and contrast ORM (rail infrastructure) and OPTM (passenger routes) with OSM's Transport layer which rather simply displays "any and all rail" (railway=*), though not disused or abandoned rail, and at closer zooms, route=bus. Here was another rail renderer which displayed rail-based passenger routes with their colour=* or color=* tag (no longer functional, it was handy on Amtrak).
|Empire Builder®||7, 8, 27, 28||national||v1 CHI-SPK||Complete; rough public_transport v1. 2206 miles (3550 km) (Chicago - Seattle). Underlying infrastructure (route=railway) relations need fixing. Serving in Minnesota: Winona, Red Wing, Saint Paul, Saint Cloud, Staples and Detroit Lakes.|
Color is Amtrak passenger=national route = blue. As Minnesota's passenger=national Amtrak route is a lengthy overnight train (nearly all Amtrak national trains are overnight, though not all routes which pass through a single state are night trains), this is assigned a darker (web safe) blue.
Presently, no "regional rail" exists in Minnesota (meduim-distances of 150 km to 1000 km; shorter than passenger=national rail but longer than passenger=suburban "commuter" trains, passenger=urban light-rail and passenger=local trams). Sometimes called "intercity." There are several passenger=regional rail projects being discussed in Minnesota. Future projects include regional rail lines which would run from the Twin Cities outward to neighboring states and perhaps Canada. See Proposed regional services.
Presently, one suburban rail exists in Minnesota (heavy-rail up to 150 km, longer than passenger=urban light-rail and passenger=local trams), the Northstar Line. Sometimes called "commuter" rail. The Northstar Line runs on existing track and right-of-way owned by the BNSF Railway. Passenger service began on November 16, 2009. The rail line serves part of the Northstar Corridor between Minneapolis and St. Cloud. Planning for the line began in 1997 when the Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA) was formed. The corridor is mostly served by Interstate 94 and U.S. Highway 10.
|Northstar||888||suburban||Rough public_transport v2. Needs only minor tweaking/improvement to comply with v2 rules. 40 miles (64 km) (Downtown Minneapolis at Target Field - Big Lake). Serving in Minnesota: Downtown Minneapolis at Target Field, Coon Rapids Riverdale, Anoka, Ramsey, Elk River and Big Lake. Planned additions include potential future stations at Fridley, Coon Rapids Foley Boulevard and an extension to include Becker, Clear Lake, Saint Cloud (Amtrak correspondence) and Rice.|
Metro (styled as METRO) is a high-capacity transport network serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. As of 2018, the system consists of two light rail lines (Blue and Green Lines), along with the Red Line, a bus rapid transit extension of the Blue Line operated by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority. The three lines connect Downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul with Bloomington and Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, with several extensions in the planning stages.
|Blue Line||901||Light Rail||Metro Transit||A public_transport:version=2 relation. Awesome!|
|Green Line||902||Light Rail||Metro Transit||A public_transport:version=2 relation. Awesome!|
The following passenger rail authorities are believed extant in Minnesota. They are only in the early stages of being sorted out as "Railroad Owners, " where RRA abbreviates "Regional Rail Authority":
BRRRA - Buffalo Ridge RRA
MVRRA - Minnesota Valley RRA (It is not known how or if this is different from Metro Transit and/or Minnesota Valley Transit Authority)
SLLCRRA - Saint Louis & Lake County RRA
(Table goes here)
A second table should contain route=train relations. Known destinations/stations and current online/printed schedules are useful sources as passenger rail routes and platform locations develop in OSM.
(Table goes here)
In the USA, passenger=local is sometimes tagged on historic/heritage/museum/tourism/mining route=train relations. Also, passenger=local is sometimes seen on, for example, airport-style railway=monorail or "People Mover" trains (often conductor-less / fully automated) linking airport terminals, rental car areas, long-term parking and correspondences with other transit networks.
Depending on similar Minnesota rail facilities, create a new section/table for amusement park rail. California has substantial amusement park rail (and similar private rail), California/Railroads' section on Tourism rail struggles with similar categorization and tagging. Map your best, wiki your best!