Construction of the Central Corridor light rail line from Minneapolis to St. Paul marks another milestone today as the first rail vehicle to be used on the line arrived in the Twin Cities.
With its bell ringing and horn tooting, the rail car No. 201 pulled into the Target Field station around 1:30 p.m. The electrically-power car is the first of 47 that will be used on what will be dubbed the Green Line It sported the new Metro logo that will identify it as part of a new color-coded system that will be used on rail lines and bus rapid transit lines throughout the Twin Cities.
The Hiawatha Light Rail will rebranded as the Blue Line. A repainted rail car from that line was also on display at today's celebration.
In the coming months, all 27 Hiawatha rail cars will be repainted to match those that will be used on the Central Corridor. In addition, 59 new cars built at $3.3 million apiece at Siemens' plant in Sacramento, Calif. will be delivered to Metro Transit. Of those, 47 will be used on the line between the two downtowns and 12 will augment the fleet of 27 that are currently in use on the Hiawatha Line.
That will allow both lines to operate three-car trains during peak periods and for special events, said Laura Baenen, communications manager for the Central Corridor project.
When the Green Line begins operation in 2014, it will serve both downtowns, the University of Minnesota, St. Paul's Midway District, the State Capitol and neighborhoods in between. Projections show 41,000 riders per weekday will board the Green Line by 2030.
As of August, the project was 74 percent complete, Met Council Chairwoman Susan Haigh said.
"The arrival of this American-made light rail vehicle is a very visible symbol of the progress we're making toward finishing the line," she said. "It will support existing jobs, create new jobs and be a catalyst for future economic growth in our region."
If all goes well, testing of the line could begin in late 2013 and be operational by 2014.
Several dignataries will make remarks during today's welcoming party. The who's who of guests includes, including Haigh, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D) and Betty McCollum (D), Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb.