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Metro Transit has rolled out new Wi-Fi service on its Northstar Commuter trains. Service began with Monday's morning rush hour trips into downtown Minneapolis.

The free service will be available in at least one car on every run, said transit agency spokesman John Siqveland.

Trains often have four to six cars, so a special decal that says "Free Wi-Fi on This Car" will be displayed both inside and outside the designated car. On most runs, the Wi-Fi service will be in what's known as the "Cab Car," the one farthest from the ­locomotive.

"Due to the longer distances traveled on commuter rail, Northstar service is a great match for Wi-Fi," said Metro Transit General Manager Brian Lamb.

While the service is free, there will be some restrictions. Questionable content will be blocked and the size of downloads will be restricted to not overwhelm the system and provide quality access to the largest number of customers, Siqveland said.

Passengers will be able to access the network by using TransitWi-FI. Once there, passengers can surf the net or click into "Sound of Point," an audio project produced by Minnesota Public Radio that narrates information and historical features along the route.

The Northstar line offers six weekday rush hour trips between Big Lake and downtown Minneapolis. It also has reduced runs on weekends and operates for such special events as Twins and Vikings games.

As of the end of August, Metro Transit had provided more than 538,000 rides on Northstar trains. That marks an increase of 16 percent over the same eight months in 2012.

Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768