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Commuter rail line to give riders refunds if trains run late

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The Northstar commuter rail line hopes to regain lost riders by offering them a money-back guarantee.

Officials with the line that runs from Minneapolis north to Big Lake announced Thursday that during January riders on trains more than ten minutes late will get a refund.

The program applies to weekday trips and riders must use a Go-To Card they've registered with Metro Transit in order to receive a refund.

It's Metro Transit's bid to show that the trains are reliable after a year that saw on-time performance – and ridership – plunge.

As FOX 9 reports, an on-time performance that was at 97 percent in 2012 fell under 66 percent through the first 10 months of this year.

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Several factors contributed to Northstar's tardiness and the Star Tribune notes that most of them are beyond the control of Metro Transit.

Northstar shares its tracks with freight trains operated by BNSF; last winter, bad weather and mechanical problems related to it caused delays; plus there was maintenance work on the tracks that caused delays in the summer and fall, the newspaper says.

WCCO reports track maintenance issues have been resolved. A student who had grown frustrated by the delays endorsed January's guarantee program, telling the station it's a good way to take care of customers.

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Those attentive to omens might make note of one detail the Star Tribune reported about Metro Transit's announcement of the on-time-or-your-money-back program: the briefing for the news media failed to start on time.

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