Funny you mention St. Paul to Minot, Pensyfan, I was thinking about that comparison.
Amtrak’s Empire Builder makes seven stops between MSP and MOT: St. Cloud (SCD), Staples (SPL), Detroit Lakes (DLK), Fargo (FAR), Grand Forks (GFK), Devils Lake, and Rugby. It takes 10 hours 9 minutes, but it’s overnight both ways so you can hopefully sleep through the trip. By car, it’s 7 hours 46 minutes nonstop - figure something more like 9 hours with a couple half-hour stops and a quick gas break, but you’d have some fatigue at the end.
For a local, you’d have to add a lot of stops. Every little burg would want one, especially if they had an existing depot. I’m also assuming you mean this to be a way-freight or at least have a lot of less-than-carload freight. So, let’s say that instead of just those seven, we have these twenty-seven:
St. Paul Union Depot
Minneapolis U of M (behind TCF Stadium)
Fridley (Northstar Commuter Rail)
Elk River (Northstar)
Big Lake (Northstar)
Pelham/New York Mills
Emerado/Grand Forks AFB
Let’s say two-thirds of them also have a forklift handy for LCL palletized freight, and that on any one trip about 1/3 of the enroute stations are either shipping or receiving at least one pallet. From firsthand experience, if you are ready with the forklift when a truck comes and the pallet is ready, it only takes seconds to pick and pull it. But, figure it takes more like ten minutes to go get the forklift warmed up (probably more in North Dakota in January), unstrap the necessary pallet, shuffle around the other pallets with a pallet jack, pull the pallet off the truck (or baggage car) and fill out the receiving paperwork while the conductor straps down the pallet you just loaded for shipment. Maybe closer to five for an experienced forklift jockey, maybe more like twenty if the lift gets stuck on ice or they need to pull more pallets than expected. You’re also assuming you have at least a truck, shed, or trailer where you can stash the received pallet, because otherwise you’re stuck outside with a shipment of congealed paint at -40° until your truck comes.
Long story short, figure that 10 hour train ride to be at least 13 with a minimal 1 minute stop at each station, but far more if there’s freight at each one.