Curry Hotel
By David Kocher

I've worked for the Alaska Railroad since August, 1980, so almost 37 years. I started as a transportation department. laborer, then was a train order operator, passenger and station agent until 1984. I was a train dispatcher from 1984 until 2000, and I've been working on our PTC project full time since 2000. Unfortunately, my recollection of exact dates is fairly poor, but I'll try to answer your questions [about signal history] as best I can.

Our first signals were at the Whittier (a.k.a. Anton Anderson) tunnel through Maynard Mountain in 2000. This is a shared rail/highway tunnel; basically a three mile long highway crossing. I dispatched, and rode, the Whittier Shuttle train that provided transportation before the tunnel was signalized.

Our next signal installation was at Hurricane, MP 281. We wanted to see how dual control switches, switch heaters, and remote communications worked in some of our worst winter weather.

After Hurricane, we started installing "islands" of CTC between Anchorage and Matanuska where we have a junction to the gravel mines on the Palmer Branch. We eventually connected these islands, added a second main track in South Anchorage where the gravel trains unload, and now have continuous CTC from CP 1051 (MP 105.1) to North Kashitna (approximately MP 194). One of our gravel customers, QAP, has a mine at Kashwitna, and can actually leave Anchorage, load 77 cars at Kashwitna, and dump them in South Anchorage within the train crew's 12 hours of service, which would only be possible with CTC. A few years ago we made the Portage wye that goes to Whittier off the main line to Seward a control point, so now have continuous CTC between Whittier and Portage, 12.4 miles.

When I started dispatching in 1984, we were Timetable schedule, train orders, and track car lineups. In 1986 we were Timetable schedule, track warrants, and track car lineups. We eventually went from having our own rule book, which was based on East Coast rules, to GCOR sometime in the 1990s, and discontinued Timetable schedules (mainly because cabooses went the way of the dinosaur, so it was almost impossible to provide rear end flag protection using train orders).

Page created 8/13/17 and last updated 8/13/17