Northstar commuter trains will be no more than 11 minutes late arriving in Big Lake or Target Field, or riders will get their money back.

Metro Transit will announce details of the Northstar Service Guarantee program at a press briefing Thursday afternoon at the Target Field station. Riders will have to register for the program at metrotransit.org/northstar. The promotion will start Jan. 1 and run for a month.

The program comes following a difficult winter in 2013-2014 that saw frequent delays along the line that runs from Big Lake to downtown Minneapolis. The delays were blamed on weather and mechanical problems and tracks clogged with freight traffic.  Northstar trains run on tracks owned by BNSF, which oversees freight and passenger rail operations on the corridor.

“The delays that have occurred on some Northstar trips are largely out of Metro Transit’s control but that doesn’t diminish our responsibility to our customers or our obligation to make things better in the future,” Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb said. “This program is our way of thanking customers who have stayed with us and inviting those who may have left to give us another chance.”

Metro Transit says it hopes to win customers who abandoned the train back. Ridership dropped precipitously as did on time performance.

The Northstar Commuter Rail Line offers service between Big Lake and Target Field stations in downtown Minneapolis, where riders connect with bus and light rail lines to reach destinations throughout the Twin Cities Metro Area. Northstar stations are located in Elk River, Ramsey, Anoka, Coon Rapids and Fridley.

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