John Speller's Web Pages Montana Rail

John Speller's Web Pages - Projected Railroads
Montana Rail
Several of the largest cities in the State of Montana, including Billings, Missoula and the State Capital of Helena, are currently without passenger rail service. Passenger service on the former Northern Pacific Railroad, between Spokane WA and Fargo ND, where trains such as the "North Shore Limited” and the "Mainstreeter" once operated, was withdrawn in the 1980s. There is some talk of reintroducing Amtrak service and this is certainly overdue. The current “Empire Builder” operates over part of the route between Chicago and Fargo and between Spokane and Seattle, so it is only a matter of reinstating the missing section between Fargo and Spokane. The track is currently operated by the BNSF Railway, except for the section between Sandpoint ID and Billings MT, which is operated by the Montana Rail Link.

The cities served, with populations, would be as follows:
Spokane WA 462,677, Sandpoint ID 7,500, Missoula MT 64,081, Helena MT 25,780, Bozeman MT 27,509, Livingston MT 7,500, Billings MT 103,994, Miles City MT 11,294, Glendive MT 4,585, Dickinson ND 16,035, Bismarck ND 97,719 and Fargo ND 95,556.
Map of Spokane - Fargo link
Freight train operating on the Montana Rail Link. Image courtesy of Freefoto, Creative Commons
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