2003 News Archive
Alaska World Trade Center lunch - 5/30/03
submitted anonymously
I attended the Alaska World Trade Center lunch presentation (http://www.wtcak.org/) by Patrick Gamble, President, Alaska Railroad.  Went there had the standard make it yourself lunchfare.  Pat got up to do the talk, with considerable difficulty due to allergy season.  He said one of the RR's primary jobs is to move freight to tidewater.  He made reference to the early history, and how the coalfields were not open to early development, coal had to be imported. He then covered a few points:

- The railroad will be exporting coal for two more years to South Korea, but after that, they will have to re-examine the situation.  Currently they have to double the hill with the coal trains, but distributed power will help that situation, and help to lower shipping costs by $1/ton (didn't they test out the DP system, and it failed miserably a little while back?).

- Their avalanche monitoring system and artillery helps to insure that trains do not get caught in, or run into an avalanche.

- Fuel for the airport is one third of their yearly revenue, and each 747 takes two tank cars of fuel.  Naphtha shipments to Japan are also a large portion of shipments.

- Seattle barge service brings in lots of freight to local customers, but scrap is the only southbound commodity. (No mention of the CN aquatrain).

For the future:

- Containers off ships in Anchorage, growing, but not that much as of now.

- If Anchorage gets a 'strategic port' designation, that would allow federal funding dollers.  New Army 'Stryker' groups going to Fairbanks in the next few years, when they deploy, some go out quick on airplanes, the rest load up on ships, and rail is the best way to get them to Anchorage.  Do not currently have the capacity, but are working on it with the Army.

- Need to work on interior development of Alaska.   Need to move more refined/processed products, (not referring to oil type, just processed freight items), not just bulk commodities.

Then questions were asked:

Q. Is Whittier in competition with Anchorage in terms of Port Facilities?
A. The tunnel is the limiting factor to that, only so much can pass through it.

Q. What is the condition of the development of Whittier to cruse ships?
A.  If the first cruse line does well there, the second will follow. Princess/Holland

Q. (from an older, former railroad hand) Why are snowsheads not used for the avalanche areas, thats what were used in the old days?
A. (Summarized response)  They cost a lot for maintence/upkeep, the main focus now is sensing/prediction/and bringing them down at the proper moment.

Q. What is the train speed?
A. Not that fast, about X miles/hr, with the system max being 49 miles/hr, but that is being improved with curve straightening.

Q. When is the tunnel going to be built to Keani?
A. Ummmmmm, (very diplomatic face) what tunnel?  The one (so-and-so) talks about, it will only need the initial building costs, will not need maintenance, and allow people to take the train to Keani, and it will be operated by the railroad. - We are not looking into such an alternative at the time. (most people were rather 'interested' by this one)

Q. What is being done with the current ship creek redevelopment.
A. Currently the railroad has the funding, and is more then ready to go on it, but they are waiting so that they can coordinate efforts with the city, for the overall master plan, and have the total package of stuff, underground parking, bus access, covered skyway, shops, etc.

MATI Trains of Thought - 5/29/03
By Pat Durand
After taking a Memorial Weekend hiatus from Museum projects, it is time to get back to the task of preparing for June 13th.

Work call for rail volunteers is 9 AM on Saturday May 31st  at the Museum

There are lots of projects to move forward.   We need to be ready for an operational rehearsal on the morning of June 7th.      Come prepared to paint, or assist in building the landing for hi-rail equipment.   For the mechanically inclined, we need to select the speeder we will operate and install batteries check fuel etc.

If Saturday is not a good day, I will facilitate Sunday sessions if this is preferable.   Does it sound like we need help?   We do!

If you want to participate on Sunday, please call at 696 2373.

So here is your opportunity to contribute to our rail preservation effort at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry.   If  railfans do not make a concerted effort at this time,  and show a broader base of support for rail preservation than is evident by recent turnout, I cannot predict a bright future for the collection.        We can not simply leave the job to the "other guy".

Volunteer Rail Curator,  Pat Durand    For the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry,  Wasilla,  Alaska

Railroad plans Ship Creek development - 5/27/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Christina Sessions
No one can accuse Jim Kubitz of not having vision. For the past four years, the vice president of real estate for the Alaska Railroad Corp. has been working on the development of a master plan for the Ship Creek area that revolves around an intermodal transportation facility.

'"This is our one and only attempt at what would be a logo for us for life,'" said Kubitz.

[See story]

Railroad's Palmer project on track - 5/27/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Zaz Hollander
By the time the state fair rolls around in 2004, the Alaska Railroad hopes that the couple hundred Anchorage residents who ride the train out to see the cabbages and the cattle will disembark at a new platform with a shelter. 

And fair officials are looking forward to a big new parking lot for buses and vans. 

But eventually, the new platform and parking facilities could be part of a long-anticipated Southcentral commuter rail system ferrying people to and from stops from Girdwood through Anchorage and up to the Valley, railroad officials say. 

[See story]

Depot welcomes first tourists - 5/25/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Richard Richtmyer
The newly constructed railroad depot at Anchorage's international airport is up and running, opening a direct link between the airport and the Seward docks.

Built with $28 million of federal money, the 17,300-square-foot airport depot initially will serve only cruise ship passengers and will be open only during the tourist season from May through September.

The Alaska Railroad has run train service between Anchorage and the cruise ship dock in Seward since 2000 using a train called the Grandview. The train features single-level "dome cars" with expansive windows to provide unobstructed views of the landscape and wildlife. The train runs about five days a week, whenever a ship docks in Seward. 

[See story]

Alaska Railroad gears for $70 million in capital projects - 5/20/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
The Alaska Railroad will hold a public hearing next month to help alleviate an annoyance in Nenana: Waiting for freight trains to pass. 

The plan, while still in the initial phases, calls for straightening the line around Nenana and bypassing intersections with roads. Now, freight trains travel through the middle of the community at all hours. 

Meanwhile, construction likely will begin this summer in Fairbanks on a $22 million project that includes a new depot off the Johansen Expressway. 

[See story]

Airport train depot open for business - 5/18/03
By Gianna Trinca
The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport train depot is officially open for business. The first train arrived Saturday morning carrying about 300 cruise ship passengers, some heading home others touring Anchorage and beyond. 

When the Grandview pulled up to this platform Saturday morning, it marked the beginning of busy season for this new depot and for the Alaska Railroad. It's the first train to hit the tracks at Steven's International Airport. 

On board the Grandview were more than 300 princess cruise ship passengers.  Some were heading home, straight off the train from Seward and on to their plane. The new train depot gives tourists a smooth ride home after cruising the inside passage. 

[See story]

Alaska Railroad to test collision avoidance system - 5/14/03
UTU Website
Alaska Railroad, with some $12 million in funding assistance from the Federal Railroad Administration, is designing, developing and implementing a computer-based collision avoidance and train control system over some 120 miles of its most heavily traveled routes north and south of 

Because all members of Alaska Railroad train crews are represented by the UTU, new technology is not a concern on Alaska Railroad, said UTU Local 1626 President Gerald Valinske. "We're not afraid of new technology. And we certainly know it can't be stopped. What we do know is there will be no impact on our jobs." This is because the UTU represents all members of the train crew, permitting the UTU -- as in the past -- to negotiate agreements protecting employment, seniority and wages of every member of the train crew, Valinske said. 

The first demonstration runs of the collision avoidance and train control system are being conducted this week between Anchorage and Indian on the Seward subdivision. UTU member 
Herf Keath will be the engineer on all test runs and Valinske will be the conductor. The collision avoidance and train control system includes locomotive, wayside and dispatcher office hardware and software. The system is designed to enforce speed limits and authority limits by monitoring locomotive location in relation to authority limits and speed restrictions. The system also monitors switch alignment, signal indication and wayside detectors and provides the crew with advance information on these devices. The system will stop a locomotive if an unsafe circumstance is observed. Unsafe circumstances include exceeding authority by going too fast, not pulling into a siding, or passing the point of authority on the track. 

Completion of the system is expected in 2005. Its key features include satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to track train location and speed; 52 locomotives with on-board computers and consoles that display train movement instructions to the crew; computer monitoring of manual switches at strategic train-meeting locations; and early notification of the status of remote control switches. 

"If this system proves to be effective, it is going to be implemented throughout the United States," said UTU Vice President Arty Martin, who is in Alaska this week to monitor the test runs. "Eventually new technology is going to replace the locomotive engineer," Martin said. "That writing has been on the wall for a long time. But railroads still will require on-board trainmen to monitor the technology and to make setouts and pick-ups. Where the UTU represents train crews, we will make the agreements to protect everyone just as we did with remote control technology," Martin said. 

"New technology is here and it is something we have to live with whether we like it or not," Martin said. "It is the certainty that more new technology is coming that makes it so essential to having a single organization representing every member of the train crew. That allows us to concentrate on protecting the jobs, seniority and wages of every train-crew member," Martin said. "Nothing is to be gained by running from new technology, marching in the streets or hiding our heads in the sand. The other organization proved the folly of such an approach. It is time to quit the squabbling and get together so one organization can protect everyone," Martin said.

Railroad closer to terminal purchase - 5/13/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Tim Bradner
The Alaska Railroad Board has authorized its management to finalize a deal that would have the state-owned railroad purchase the dormant Seward coal terminal. 

The money would come from a $9.6 million federal grant secured by U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. 

The railroad's board, over the chairman's objection, approved a resolution authorizing the state-owned Alaska Railroad Corp. management to finalize a purchase agreement with Hyundai Merchant Marine America and the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. 

[See story]

Usibelli plans new power plant - 5/13/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Robert Howk
Usibelli Coal Mine Inc., Alaska's only operator of a coal mine, announced a proposal for a $421 million, 200-Megawatt power plant at its mine near Healy, in Interior Alaska about 80 miles south of Fairbanks. 

It would be a major energy project designed to supply low-cost electricity to Alaska's "railbelt," energy grid, a top company official said. 

[See story]

Dirt and airport depot - 5/12/03
From an anonymous source
It appears that this is the second week of the dirt trains. Last Wednesday 5-7-03, saw a string of the blue-ended coal cars from Minnesota Ave at the first dirt plant on their circular track, so they have started recently. 

Also in the news papers, adds saying that, "On May 17 the Alaska Railroad will pull into the new depot at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.  To help keep all modes of transportation operating in harmony, we're alerting everyone to the resumption of train traffic at crossings along the airport spur.  Drivers should be alert between Klatt Road and Arctic Boulevard - the Railroad is now running trains on the new double track along that stretch - so please look both ways at each crossing.  Always expect a train.  Help us keep the Alaska Railroad one of the safest railroads in America.  Please look both ways before crossing." 

Latest Scuttlebutt - 5/12/03
From an anonymous source
SD70MAC 4011's wheel was found to have a crack in it. It appears the hardness of the wheels is not enough for their environment. Therefore, it is very likely that wheels on all SD70MACs may have to be replaced over time. Unfortunately, this is not covered under EMD's warranty. Also, software problems continue to haunt the AC part of the MACs. The traction control units are weak. Additionally, there is overloading of the computer memory which typically causes the train to go into emergency for the computer to reboot. 

Palmer Junction is now totally CTC as of Wednesday (May 7) with automated switches. Additionally, the new mainline at Matanuska is complete and the speed limit has been raised to 45 mph. 

The railroad will be leasing three locomotives this summer. They will either be GP38s or 40s. 

All new railroad construction will be done with concrete ties and 141 pound rail. CXST in Spokane, Washington is rumored to be the supplier. They are contemplating the possible manufacture of these in Alaska to save shipping costs. 

Yes, there were problems with getting the locomotives into the new airport depot. Some of the fuel caps didn't clear and the SD70MACs couldn't get along side. This brings back memories of the Whittier tunnel project where 80 square inches had to be removed from the bottom corners of the locomotive plows to accommodate the road lane's curbs. Is it possible the trimmed plows will not be able to adequately do their job? 

The railroad is purchasing some cab control cars (converted locomotives) to be used as push/pull units for the Seward run. 

Cruise ships will supposedly start coming to Whittier next summer. The tour companies will use the railroad to "hermetically seal" the passengers from Whittier to Talkeetna. This will bypass a stop in Anchorage and assure that passengers will be staying at that tour company's hotels. 

Remember, this is all scuttlebutt. It might be fact or wild rumors. Keep your eyes and ears open! 

ARR open house report - 5/7/03
By Matt Leistico
I went to the open house this Saturday. There was a boat load of people there. The railroad had three pieces of MOW equipment on display, that you could climb up, around, and over. 

On the passing track there was a Jordan spreader, SD70MAC (Spirit of Wasilla), dome car, diner and one of the former Florida Fun Train cars. You could walk through the cars and into the engine. I overheard engineer Bob talking with another guy about how they were going to be getting more SD70's at some time. I asked if they were going to be getting any of the new GE Environmental units and got a resounding "No!" 

They also had a line that went the entire length of the station for a free ride on a three car coach set, down five miles to a park and and back 

In the station, you could enter the raffle for free tickets, buy at the gift shop (my compliments on the new 2004 calendar), and a 40% off shirt. In the baggage house they had all of the placards about future projects on display (same ones as detailed on their web page) and model railroad setups. 


MATI Trains of Thought - 5/7/03
By Pat Durand
Alaska Railroad #260 known as the "Black Mariah" will soon be on the rails again at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry in Wasilla. This 1966 Chrysler Town & Country station wagon was at one time the personal inspection vehicle of the Alaska Railroad's General Manager. After some 10 years in yard storage at the Museum, the MATI rail crew invested about 15 man hours cleaning, polishing, tinkering and following the lead of chief mechanic, Jeff Debrock brought the vehicle back to life on May 3, 2003. After a "test" drive to the Wasilla Airport, the crew declared she was ready for the rails. Some stabilization work is in order and regular detailing are needed to keep her available for service at the Museum. 

The Chitina Auto Railer, Black Mariah and the various gas cars at the museum are all prime candidates for "adoption". They need a few people dedicated to the loving care and attention each deserves in the MATI collection. Let's keep them on the rails for the future. 

Locomotives #1718 and #1500 received serious wash jobs and are now ready for protective wax. This job is best done by hand and is scheduled for Saturday, May 10 at the Museum with a 9:00 AM job call. If you can join us bring your step ladder, old towels and cotton scraps for applying the elbow grease. The polish will be provided and if you RSVP (sewtrain@att.net) plan to join us for a lunch of railroad stew. 

The MATI Board of Directors has approved a three stage long range plan for additional track construction at the Museum. The plan is to facilitate future limited demonstration operation of rail equipment. 

Now is your opportunity to support the Museum and voice your interest in seeing operational exhibits. Become a MATI member and state your support for the railroad preservation effort. If you wish to make a contribution, volunteer or for membership information, contact Pat Durand. sewtrain@att.net 

We would like to add you to the MATI rail crew. Saturday the crew consisted of Richard & Gail Clinch, Ed Kovich, Jeff Debrock and Pat Durand, Volunteer Rail Curator. Only with volunteers will the job progress. 


Alaska Railroad opens its doors - 5/4/03
By Megan Baldino
Thousands turned out at the Alaska Railroad Depot Saturday. At its annual open house, the Alaska Railroad showcased its current and future projects. 

From the Anchorage rail yard to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport capacity improvements to the Anchorage to Wasilla track realignment. Vice President of Projects Eileen Reilly says this is a boom time for the state owned corporation.  Reilly says getting commuters from Anchorage to Wasilla in a timely fashion is a major goal of the Alaska railroad. 

[See story]

Terminal buy is on track - 5/1/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Paula Dobbyn
The Seward coal terminal has been idle since last fall, when a contract with Korean coal buyers dried up after 18 years. But a deal in the works between the Alaska Railroad Corp., Hyundai Merchant Marine America and the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority could revive the terminal. 

Negotiations are chugging toward conclusion in a deal that would have the state-owned Alaska Railroad Corp. purchase the dormant Seward coal terminal with a $9.6 million federal grant secured by U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens. 

The railroad's board, over the chairman's objection, approved a resolution this month authorizing management to finalize a purchase agreement with Hyundai Merchant Marine America and the state-owned Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority. 

[See story]

Alaska Railroad Corporation hosts open house - 4/29/03
By Patrick Flynn, ARRC Public Affairs
April 28, 2003
Contact: Patrick Flynn

The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) invites Alaskans to "meet the railroad" at its annual Open House, Saturday, May 3 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Anchorage depot (411 West First Avenue). "We enjoy kicking off our busy summer season by showing our neighbors what we do and how we do it," said Pat Gamble, ARRC President and CEO. "It gives railroaders a chance to demonstrate their professionalism and pride, and it's a lot of fun for families, especially the kids."

Events at the Open House will include:
· Free round trip train rides from the Anchorage depot.
· Live music from Top Cover, Elmendorf Air Force Base's band.
· A model train display from the Military Society of Model Railroad Engineers.
· Free railroad-related items for kids (and kids-at-heart).
· Displays of passenger, maintenance, and other railroad equipment.
· Free popcorn and beverages.
· Hot dogs and candy bars sold by the Government Hill Elementary School PTA to raise funds for their organization. Government Hill is an ARRC School-Business Partner.
· A free raffle for a round trip for four to Denali on the Alaska Railroad and for a copy of a framed 2003 Alaska Railroad poster.
· Updates on current and planned capital projects.

ARRC complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure its facilities are accessible to the public. Individuals with special accommodation needs should contact the railroad at 265-2494.

The Alaska Railroad was owned and operated by the U.S. Government from1914 until 1985, when it was purchased by the State of Alaska. Today the self-sustaining, state-owned corporation operates without state subsidy, while maintaining vital links in Alaska's transportation system.


MATI Trains of Thought - 4/28/03
By Pat Durand
April 26 was Spring Clean Up at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry and the weather could not have been finer. A crew of about 50 showed up to spiffy up the grounds, bring vehicles out of winter storage and give them a bath. Some wind damage repairs were made to 
include installing parts of the main entry sign. All of this in preparations for summer schedule opening on May 1, 2003. Museum Board Members, Phil Lockwood, Dick Wilson, Joe Henry, and Marilyn McGuire were on hand working with the crews and hosting the hamburger and hot dog lunch. 

Pat Durand, Volunteer Curator of Railroads, worked with an enthusiastic rail crew made up of Ed Kovich, Gail Clinch, Roy Foster, Howard Hanson and Jeff DeBrock. Early morning found Pat and Ed delimbing and bucking up some large windblown spruce in the park. Steel scaffold was set next to caboose 1018 and decked in preparation for fascia repairs and painting. Construction materials were stored in 1565 E (engineering) box car. Ed and Roy cleaned out the cab of #1500 and installed the new seats and covers made my Ree Moffitt. The headlight lens and bezel are being rebuilt by Ed. With a little help from Ed, Gail cleaned the troop car rail displays and as always pitched in with the guys on the heavy work.

The 1966 Chrysler station wagon on Hi rail gear known as the "Black Maria" was inspected by Jeff's crew and is expected to come to life on May 3 during our next work session. In addition Jeff will do a tune-up on the clark fork lift. The Chitna Auto Railer is all good news, she is running and just needs a good detail cleaning and waxing for the season. Help on these projects would be appreciated.

Wish and Wash is providing the mobile steam cleaner and pressure washer to wash down the locomotive fleet on the morning of May 3rd. Bring your rain gear and be ready to man the end of a wash broom soaping down the locomotives. This step is necessary to release the years of paint oxidation built up. After washing, an evaluation of each locomotive will develop a plan for long range paint protection or short term waxing. 

May 3 work call is for 8:30 AM and we expect to wrap up about 3PM for those with other railroading obligations. Our goal is the best possible presentation for the Trains Unlimited Tours "Great Alaskan Rail Adventure" on Friday, June 13th. Plan on joining us at MATI to host the group. Your membership in MATI will ensure you are kept abreast of the latest developments.


Usibelli deals with year of upheaval - 4/27/03
By Jeffrey Hope
Healy, Alaska - Significant changes have taken place in the last year at the Usibelli Coal Mine in Healy -- a major contract ended and jobs had to be cut. At the same time the company was losing a contact to send coal to South Korea, Poker Flats had become too expensive to mine. Now the Usibelli family says the tough times are behind them. 

[See story]

Alaska Railroad gears for $70 million in capital projects- 4/23/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
FAIRBANKS -- The Alaska Railroad will hold a public hearing next month to help alleviate an annoyance in Nenana: Waiting for freight trains to pass. The plan, while still in the initial phases, calls for straightening the line around Nenana and bypassing intersections with roads. Now, freight trains travel through the middle of the community at all hours. 

Meanwhile, construction likely will begin this summer in Fairbanks on a $22 million project that includes a new depot off the Johansen Expressway. The railroad also will begin work on a Denali National Park depot renovation, and is planning other rail work in the Interior. 

[See story]

Pipeline could spur railway, Manning says - 4/19/03
Whitehorse Star Online
By Jason Small
The former federal leader of the official Opposition leader thinks an Alaska Highway pipeline and a northern railway could go hand-in-hand. Former Reform party leader Preston Manning spoke to representatives of the Yukon and Alaska State Chambers of Commerce at a Wednesday luncheon about transportation projects in western Canada. 

Manning was representing the Canada West Foundation, a Calgary-based thinktank which focuses on improving Canada's position in Confederation.  For the transportation infrastructure - roads, rail, pipelines, seaports, airports and electrical grids - in the North to improve, Manning told his audience, something big has to be done. 

[See story]

Senate backs Fort Greely railroad plan - 4/14/03
Kenai Peninsula Online
JUNEAU--The state Senate has passed a resolution in support of extending the Alaska Railroad to Fort Greely to support the national missile defense system. 

The resolution, which already passed the state House, is subject to a vote of reconsideration. Presuming it clears that final hurdle, the document can be sent to Gov. Frank Murkowski, President Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Railroad President Patrick Gamble and Alaska's Congressional delegation. 

The resolution, introduced by Rep. Bob Lynn, R-Anchorage, and co-sponsored by 23 House members and seven senators, expresses support for an extension of the railroad to Fort Greely to supply the missile defense facility currently under construction there. The railroad currently terminates at Eielson Air Force Base, 70 miles away from Greely. 

[See story]

Obituary for Robert Davison - 4/14/03
Robert Wallace Davison, 76, of Lake Havasu City passed away Saturday, April 12, 2003. Bob was born April 8, 1927, in Livingston, Mont. He was the only child of Earl and Edna Davison. He was a World War II veteran. Bob spent 40-plus years working for the Alaska Railroad. He retired as superintendent of transportation. Bob moved to Lake Havasu City about 20 years ago. He then worked on the Arizona California Railroad in Parker as superintendent of safety/operating procedures. Bob was also the PSOTA Volunteer of the Year. Bob is survived by his daughter, Kristina Katherine Edna Davison, 12 and his stepson, Matthew A. Short, 23. His family said he will be remembered by many whose lives he touched. A memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 15, at Mount Olive Lutheran Church with Pastor Tom Dunham officiating. Bob's final resting place will be in Missoula, Mont. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Hospice of Havasu. Lietz-Fraze Funeral Home made arrangements. 
Whittier's nuisance hulk may become plush resort - 4/9/03
Mike's Whittier Forum
Published: February 26, 2003 

A New York-based company has agreed to pay $21.5 million for a derelict World War II Army building in rain-slogged Whittier with the goal of turning it into a five-star destination resort. 

Laidlaw Global Corp., an international finance and investment firm, announced the Buckner Building acquisition this week, noting that shareholders and the Securities and Exchange Commission must still approve the deal. 

Plans have come and gone for the abandoned, asbestos-filled building during the past 30 years, but none has come to fruition. The Buckner, a sinister-looking hulk often shrouded in fog, has sat exposed to the elements since the military handed the keys to the city in 1970. Trespassers party amid the shattered glass of blown-out windows, while adventure seekers wade through puddles in its subterranean caverns, city officials say. 

Whittier officials declared the building a nuisance awhile back and told the owner, George LaMoureaux of Anchorage, to board it up, which he has yet to do, said former mayor Ben Butler. The Buckner's assessed value on city tax rolls last year was $879,000, said Don Grande, finance director. The Buckner is one of two former military buildings that constitute most of Whittier, a Cold War outpost 75 miles southeast of Anchorage. The town of 170 residents is ringed by majestic mountains that tend to trap Pacific storms. 

If the deal pans out as planned, Laidlaw executives say they will seek investors and bank financing to pump $70 million into the fortress-like building and turn it into a 476-room Ramada Plaza Hotel. A West Coast franchise seller for Ramada said Tuesday that he was unaware of the Laidlaw deal. Ramada officials at the corporate headquarters in New Jersey did not return phone messages. 

While the six-story Army relic may be an eyesore, it sits on the shores of glacier-dotted Prince William Sound. The stunning natural setting and the growth of ecotourism are the big draws, Laidlaw executives say. 

"We're well aware that Whittier is a one-man and a one-sheep town. But we're of the belief that people will want to come to this area for the bird life and the fish life," said Julian Edwards, the London-based chief executive of Laidlaw Properties Inc., a subsidiary. 

Besides a year-round hotel and resort, Roger Bendelac, chief executive of Laidlaw Global, said the company is also considering building a health care facility in Whittier for people in convalescence or people who need to be in retreat. 

Neither he nor Edwards has been to Whittier although both plan to visit within the next few weeks, they said. 

The 2.5-mile-long tunnel built three years ago that links Whittier with the state's road system factored into Laidlaw's decision to buy the Buckner, Edwards said. The tunnel has the potential to draw more than half a million visitors to the area, he said. 

Although state highway officials predicted an explosion of growth in visitors to Whittier when the tunnel was modified for cars, the hordes have yet to show up. About 100,000 people traveled to Whittier each year by rail before the tunnel could handle cars.  Officials predicted that figure would swell by up to 650,000. But the projections were way off. From April 2001 to March 2002, about 119,000 people visited Whittier, state officials said. 

Several real estate developers in Anchorage wished Laidlaw executives well but said they doubt the hotel will ever be built. Too many ideas, including a prison, have been tried, and none has worked. Randy Kaer, a general contractor, said LaMoureaux deserves credit. 

"My hat's off to the guy if he can buy that piece of junk and turn around and sell it for $21.5 million," Kaer said. "Maybe I should call him up and borrow some money from him." 

LaMoureaux could not be reached on Tuesday. The city of Whittier was planning to foreclose on the Buckner Building this week because LaMoureaux was behind in tax payments and failed to fence off the property, said acting city manager Leonard Jones. 

Whittier officials hadn't heard of Laidlaw's plan to buy the building. While the jobs and tax revenue a resort hotel would bring to Whittier sound superb, officials aren't getting too excited yet. 

"We'll believe it when we see it," said Grande. 

Laidlaw executives also say the deal rides on the company's legal review and their personal tour of the property. 

"If this isn't the unusual jewel we want to build, we'll find another," Bendelac said. 

Railroad considers buying Seward coal terminal - 4/7/03
Kenai Peninsula Online
A proposed deal for the Alaska Railroad to buy coal-loading facilities at Seward could re-ignite sales of the fuel to South Korea but railroad officials say they need more time to determine whether the arrangement is fair. 

The equipment has been idle since last fall when a coal contract between Usibelli Coal Mine of Healy and the South Koreans dried up. 

[See story]

Alaska Railroad posts $9 million profit - 4/7/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Christina Sessions
Despite a 1.5 percent decline in revenue in 2002, cost-containment measures enabled the Alaska Railroad Corporation to report an $8.9 million profit for the year. 

That represents a 35 percent increase over 2001, according to the railroad's annual report released April 1. Total revenue for the year was $105.7 million. That was a $1.6 million drop from last year. 

[See story]

Railroad projects aim for efficiency - 4/7/03
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Nenana has never rivaled Los Angeles for traffic troubles, but an Alaska Railroad project getting its first public hearing next month may help reduce one potential problem: Waiting for freight trains to pass. 

The effort to straighten the line around Nenana and bypass intersections with roads is still in the planning stages. Meanwhile, construction likely will begin this summer in Fairbanks on a $22 million project that includes a new depot off the Johansen Expressway across from Aurora Motors. 

[See story]

New cab cars - 4/6/03
Submitted by an anonymous source
National Railway at Mt. Vernon, Illinois was the successful bidder.  They are converting two each F40PH locomotives into cab cars to the ARRC's specifications.  Engine compartment will carry an 800 KW HEP plant.  Specs were developed from meetings with Amtrak engineering people at Beech Grove so that we piggyback off their experience. 
Coal facility may reopen - 4/6/03
Anchorage Daily News
SEWARD -- A massive blue hulk stood silent in a Seward coal yard this week, whipped by a chilly wind. The big-muscle machine, which stacks coal from Healy, has been idle since last fall when a coal contract with South Korea dried up. 

But a $9.6 million congressional appropriation, courtesy of Sen. Ted Stevens, may bring the giant stacker back to life this month, creating work for people in Seward, Healy and on the Alaska Railroad. 

The deal hinges on whether the railroad decides to use the federal dollars to buy the Seward coal terminal from Hyundai Merchant Marine America, majority owner, and the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which owns 49 percent. Hyundai's general manager in Seward said Thursday that the railroad has "delayed and delayed" and the Korean coal buyers are getting antsy and may walk if shipments don't resume in the next two weeks. 

[See story]

Why the Alaska Railroad is leasing locomotives this summer - 4/3/03
Submitted by an anonymous source
Business continues to grow.  Fuel loadings from the North Pole Refinery are running at record levels; it appears that gravel loadings will be near a record year; there is a whole new rock train on the south end this spring, summer and fall in support of a highway project;  there is an additional passenger train on eight Fridays during the summer; two passenger trains are going push-pull this year and although we have cab cars being built at this time, until they are delivered, we will have to use locomotives on the other end of the train; we have two work trains running all spring, summer and fall in support of major line change capital projects - each requiring two locomotives.  Additionally, we have one more locomotive out of service all busy season because we have decided to run our GP locomotive overhaul all year instead of shutting it down in the busy season as we did last year.  Also, we are expecting SD70MAC availability to fall off somewhat this year because 3 year - 250,000 maintenance is due and we can't get it done until the winter of 2003/2004.  We anticipate about 90 percent availability out of the SD70MAC's this summer instead of the 95+ percent that we have been getting for the past two years.  Also, GP availability is falling off to about 80 percent because we just can't get them through overhaul fast enough (manpower shortages). 

Since we bought the SD70MAC's all at the same time, they all have come due for scheduled maintenance at the same time and they all wore out their wheels at the same time.  We have been changing wheels as we can all winter. 

All things considered, we need to lease some units for the busy season. 

Alaska Railroad hauls in 35 percent higher profit- 4/3/03
By Jeffrey Hope
From many financial viewpoints, 2002 was not a very good year. Nevertheless, there is very good news from the Alaska Railroad Corp. The company's annual report out Tuesday shows a 35 percent profit. 

Moving freight is how the railroad makes more than two-thirds of its money, so when the contract between Korea and the Usibelli Coal Mine in Healy fell apart, the railroad was left scrambling. Hauling coal to the facility in Seward was worth $4 million a year. 

[See story]

Talks could bring back Usibelli coal shipments - 4/3/03
Morris News Service
By Marcus K. Garner
Last summer, economic duress in Interior Alaska directly impacted economic growth on the Kenai Peninsula when Healy-based Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. lost a major long-term sales contract to South Korean client Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. 

While the loss meant a 30 percent workforce reduction for the company, it also curtailed coal exports from the Alaska Railroad freight terminus in Seward, having some effect on jobs there. 
Change may be in the winds, however, although the initial effect of the end of the 18-year coal export operation put a dent in the city's economy. 

"We all felt really bad when the coal contract ended," said Helen Marrs, executive director for the Seward Chamber of Commerce. "We had some folks that found themselves unemployed." 

[See story]

Locomotive Lease - 4/3/03
from the Alaska Railroad website
ALASKA RAILROAD CORPORATION (ARRC) INVITATION to BID 03-28-36762 LOCOMOTIVE LEASE (FEDERAL GRANT) The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) is soliciting bids from interested concerns for lease of three to twelve GP-40-2 or GP38-2 locomotives from May, 2003 thru October, 2003. Bids will be accepted until 3:00 p.m. Friday, April 18, 2003. ARRC is an equal opportunity corporation who encourages the utilization of small business concerns owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. To receive a copy of this offer please contact Alaska Railroad Purchasing & Materials, (907) 265-2630. This bid document is also available on the internet under www.akrr.com "Corporate Information" then Contracts/Purchasing then "Solicitations". Pub: 03/30, 31 & 04/01, 2003 
Railroad cut costs, had profit in 2002 - 4/3/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Richard Richtmyer
The Alaska Railroad made an $8.9 million profit last year on revenue of $105.7 million. Profits at the state-owned railroad were up 35 percent from $6.6 million in 2001. At the same time, revenue was down slightly from $107.3 million. 

Railroad president and chief executive Pat Gamble and other executives began the year targeting a profit of $4.2 million, according to Johne Binkley, chairman of the railroad's board 
of directors. 

[See story

New HALX cars on the move  I - 3/25/03
By Web Lurker
New cars built by Colorado Railcar for Alaska tour service.


Mon Apr 7 Travel 130 mi - Amtrak Special Train Fullerton to Santa Barbara 

Tue-Wed Apr 8-9   DISPLAY 2 days - SANTA BARBARA CA (Near Fess Parker Resort) Cars available 700am Tue to 400p Wed

Thu Apr 10 Travel 324 mi - Amtrak Special Train Santa Barbara to San Jose

Fri Apr 11 Layover & prep. San Jose depot/yard tracks

Sat Apr 12 Travel 3 mi - CalTrain 700am switch San Jose to Santa Clara 

Sat-Sun Apr 12-13 DISPLAY 2 days SANTA CLARA CA Cal Train passenger station On main track Cars available 900am Saturday to 600pm Sunday 

Sun Apr 13 Travel 3 mi CalTrain 600pm switch Santa Clara toes Jose 

Mon Apr 14 Travel 45 mi Amtrak Special Train San Jose to Oakland 

Mon-Tue Apr 14-15 Travel 730 mi Oakland 932p-14th Portland OR 340p-15th

New HALX cars on the move  II - 3/25/03
Forwarded by Nathan Holmes, source unknown
Holland America Line Inc. is adding four completely new bi-level dome dining-lounge cars to its current Fairbanks-Anchorage rail service on the Alaska Railroad's passenger trains.  These cars have been built to a new design by Tom Rader's Colorado Railcar Manufacturing Co. at Fort Lupton, Colorado, just north of Denver.  At 18 ft 2 inches tall, and 89 feet long (4 feet longer and two feet taller than most Amtrak Superliner and other passenger cars), these new domes are being billed by Holland America as the world's largest passenger cars.

Holland America's press release about these cars is available at:

The first two cars, numbered and named HALX 1050 "Kenai" and HALX 1051 "Knik," left the Fort Lupton plant March 13 on UP's local freight train to Denver Union Station where they went on display to travel professionals and the public March 14 -15.  These two cars departed Denver on BNSF freight train H-DENBAR-1-21 at 428am Saturday March 22, and arrived Albuquerque NM just 24 hours later at 430am March 23.  They were expected to leave Albuquerque about 100pm March 23 on the same train, and arrive Barstow Tuesday morning March 25, connecting into Los Angeles 8th Street coach yard by Thursday morning March 27.

These two cars (HALX 1050 and 1051) are scheduled to go on display to travel professionals and the public at the following confirmed locations:

LOS ANGELES - Union Station Garden Tracks - Friday, Saturday, Sunday, March 28-29-30.

SAN DIEGO - SD&IV RR Yard track 9, (South of 8th Street just east of Harbor Drive). - Wed Apr 2.

FULLERTON CA - Transportation Center/Amtrak Station private car tracks - Fri-Sat-Sun April 4-5-6.

Public display hours at each venue are typically 1000am - 200pm and 300pm-500pm. Travel Professional display hours are typically 700pm - 900pm.  Movements between displays will be either BNSF freight trains or Amtrak special passenger trains.

As these two cars work their way north toward a scheduled April 23 Alaska Railroad barge sailing from Seattle to Whittier, Alaska, where they begin service May 16, they are tentatively scheduled for additional public display at the following locations:

Tentative displays; subject to change:
Santa Barbara CA - Amtrak spur near Fess Parker Resort - April 8 and 9
Santa Clara CA - CalTrain Station - April 12-13
Portland OR - Union Station - April 16
Seattle WA - King Street Station - April 18-19-20.

The second two cars, HALX 1052 "Chena" and 1053 "Kobuk" are now scheduled to leave the Colorado Railcar plant about April 2 enroute to Seattle for an April 16 Alaska barge sailing.  Movement may be either on Amtrak passenger or BNSF freight trains.

HALX 1050 and 1052 are described as "a-type" cars with a full-service kitchen to serve two cars, and 1051 and 1053 are "b-type" cars with a lower-level open-air observation platform instead of a kitchen.

These new cars will replace four of the ex-ATSF full-domes built in 1954 and rebuilt by Holland America in the late 1980's for Alaska Service. Holland America has several recently-rebuilt ex-ATSF and ex-MILW full dome cars for sale in Alaska.

Usibelli hopes coal will head to Korea - 3/25/03
RENEWAL: Contract talks resume with help from grant
The Associated Press
Anchorage Daily News
Usibelli Coal Mine is negotiating with Korean buyers in hopes of providing Healy coal once again to an Asian power plant.

Coal exports from Alaska to Korea tapered off last year and concluded in October when Usibelli couldn't agree on price terms with its largest customer.

As a result, 30 to 35 people, almost one-third of Usibelli's work force, lost their jobs last year at Alaska's only operating coal mine. 

[See story]

Non-exclusive use permit signed - 3/13/03
From an anonymous source
The Alaska Railroad signed a "Non-exclusive Use Permit" with a combination of the City of Palmer, The Mat-Su Borough, and the Alaska State Department of Natural Resources for the Palmer Branch from Mile 4.94 to Mile 26 and the Moose and Eska Creek drainage spurs (from Inner Springer Loop Rd. at the North end of the Fairgrounds on out). This is a 55 year permit.  It went into effect January 4, 2003.

The Alaska Railroad did have a legal situation to address in that the originating legislation for the sale to the State required that any portion of right-of-way not actively used would revert to the adjacent landholders after 18 years.  This was the 18th year since purchase.

Trying to resurrect Seward coal export - 3/13/03
Kenai Peninsula Online
Last summer, economic duress in Interior Alaska directly impacted economic growth on the Kenai Peninsula when Healy-based Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. lost a major long-term sales contract to South Korean client Hyundai Merchant Marine Co. While the loss meant a 30 percent work force reduction for the company, it also curtailed coal export from the Alaska Railroad freight terminus in Seward, taking some effect on jobs there.

[See story]

Westours railcar update - 3/13/03
By Web Lurker
Westours put 50/56 (Kenai & Knik) up for sale last September as the only time they were being used was for "overflow" situations, and being Pullman standard products, they were different design than the Budds and required different maintenance.  Now that 1050-1053 are being delivered (with 4 more [total of 8]  due from Colorado Railcar in 2004), they declared 5 Budds surplus and also put them up for sale at the beginning of March - 509, 510, 551, 553, 554.  The names will be recycled - the four I gave you (shown below) are for the cars being delivered now. 

1050 Kenai 
1051 Knik 
1052 Chena 
1053 Kobuk 

Road, rail rumors put to rest - 3/5/03
Kenai Peninsula Online
The Kenai Peninsula is rife with scuttlebutt and rumors about plans to connect with the rest of the state. Talk of roads linking with the Anchorage area, railways coming onto the central peninsula and additional highway extending north often come up as water cooler chatter, reflecting the desires of the populace. In some cases, there's absolutely no basis to such fantastic ideals. In others, however, there is some truth.

But first, the bad news.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad reaches settlement with EPA on fuel spill - 3/5/03
DERAILMENT: Terms include $150,000 payment, equipment upgrade
By Zaz Hollander
Anchorage Daily News
The Alaska Railroad Corp. will pay the federal government $150,000 and upgrade emergency response equipment to settle civil penalties from a 1999 derailment and fuel spill about 40 miles north of Talkeetna. 

The "fairly significant" settlement on what is called the "canyon spill" followed about six months of negotiations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said Matt Carr, the EPA's federal on-scene coordinator for the spill.

[See story]

Railroad study might help with traffic snarl - 3/4/03
By Christina Sessions
Alaska Journal of Commerce
The Alaska Railroad Corporation recently completed the first phase of a noise and vibration study for the corridor that runs between the airport spur and the rail yard in downtown Anchorage.

The study will help the railroad determine the best course of action to help relieve the congestion on one of its busiest corridors.

[See story]

Model trains aren't just child's play - 2/24/03
By Matt Tunseth
Kenai Peninsula Online
Heavily loaded with a hundred cars of fresh-picked apples, a Great Northern Railroad train begins to pull sluggishly away from the station in Weathered, Wash. On its long journey across the state, the train will wind through apple country, climb the Cascade Mountains and eventually come to rest on the West Coast. There, the apples will be unloaded for shipment to ports around the world. 

[See story]

Passenger trains get OK in study - 2/20/03
Anchorage Daily News
The Alaska Railroad Corp. recently completed the first phase of a noise and vibration study conducted along its corridor between the airport spur and downtown Anchorage. A key finding indicates that speeds of loaded gravel trains affect vibration levels. Also, passenger trains, even operating at speeds far higher than currently used in this corridor, are not a source of vibration problems, the railroad said.

As a result, the railroad will consider increasing passenger train speeds to help improve traffic flow.

[See story]

Railroad offers to haul snow for the Iditarod - 2/18/03
By Patrick Flynn
Alaska Railroad Public Affairs
Last week we had brief stories on APRN and KIMO about the possibility of getting snow from along the railbelt, likely Tunnel section, and hauling it to Anchorage for the ceremonial start of the Iditarod.  My understanding is that the Iditarod folks now plan to get their snow from stockpiles on the local military bases.
Railroad roadmaster chooses outdoors over desk job - 2/18/03
By Amanda Bohman
Anchorage Daily News
Steve Love seems to know every rock slide, mud slide and sinkhole that has struck the roughly 125 miles of the Alaska Railroad from Gold Creek Station to Rex Crossing.

Take a ride with him in his orange Alaska Railroad three-quarter-ton Chevy suburban with hy-rail wheels. Those wheels, also called dolly wheels, allow him to ride on the tracks.

While you're taking in the stunning mountainside or the truculent Nenana River, Love is scouting the track and listening carefully for an interruption - a BANG! - in the dolly wheels' clack-clack-clack-ing along the rails.

[See story]

Railroad bridge work begins - 2/18/03
By Christina Sessions
Alaska Journal of Commerce
The Alaska Railroad Corp. began construction of a second bridge over Campbell Creek Feb. 10. The bridge will complete the South Anchorage double track project, which adds five miles of new track from Minnesota Drive south to 120th Avenue.

The new track, laid on the east side of the existing rail, will ease congestion on one of the busiest corridors and prepare the railroad to accommodate an increase in future passenger and freight service, according to the company.

Patrick Flynn, spokesman for the railroad, said that it is common for 20 or more trains to pass that section of rail in a day.

[See story]

Derailment, funds and a slip - 2/12/03
From an anonymous source
On Saturday the railroad experienced its third derailment of the year.  A state trooper was watching the train go by at Pittman and reported train cars jumping up and down.  Seconds later approximately nine articulated cars jumped the track.  Caused of the derailment is still unknown.  However, the cause of the Reeves derailment (1/31/03) was determined to be an improperly installed truck.

The railroad also found (?) $2.6 million of FTA money which will be applied to last year's profits.  Additionally, there appears to still be more federal funding available, but sources say the railroad can't come up with matching funds.

Crowley is pushing the railroad to purchase the slip they use in Tacoma, Washington for $2.3 million.  This slip used to be shared with Seaways, but they didn't renew their contract.  Also, the Canadians have expressed a desire to get rid of the Aquatrain.

Finally, my source bemoans that lack of snow has caused the Iditarod to restart in Fairbanks.  I shared the fact that Dayton, Ohio has had snow on the ground every day since Christmas eve and current temperatures are in the single digits.  We decided it would be a good idea to have an Iditarod restart in Dayton with a final destination of New York city.  Stranger things have happened!

Bridge work may cut access to Campbell Creek trail - 2/11/03
By Jeffrey Hope
An Alaska Railroad construction project may mean delays for people who walk the Campbell Creek Trail in Anchorage. 

A crew began constructing a new bridge over Campbell Creek on Monday. It's part of an $11.8 million double-track project that railroad officials say is needed to cut down on congestion in an area the railroad uses frequently. 

[See story]

Railroad predicts reduced profits - 2/11/03
By Tim Bradner
Alaska Journal of Commerce
Thanks to an infusion of $200 million in federal funds since 1996,  the state-owned Alaska Railroad is in better physical shape. But a flat outlook for freight revenues means the railroad faces  slimmer profits in the future. That's unless costs can be trimmed. Profits were $8.4 million last year. This year they are estimated at  $5.4 million.

Patrick Gamble, Alaska Railroad Corp. president, told a panel of  state legislators in Juneau on Jan. 29 that he will propose a plan  to the railroad's board this summer aimed at trimming operating  costs by 2005.  "We can't just sit back. We've got to take the  initiative to shape our future," he told members of the House  Finance Committee.

[See story]

ARRC to haul Korean coal? - 2/6/03
From an anonymous source
It looks like the Alaska Railroad may again haul Korean coal. There are no signed contracts yet, but the ARRC & Usibelli are hoping to sign a deal for 400,000 tons per year for two years. 800,000 tons per year used to be the goal, but half is better than none.  Nobody is holding their breath, but it sounds encouraging.
Final phase of Alaska's double-track project to begin Feb. 10 - 2/5/03
The final phase of the Alaska Railroad's $11.8 million South Anchorage Double Track project begins Monday with construction of a second bridge across Campbell Creek.

The bridge is expected to be completed by June 2, the railroad said. When ready for service, the double-tracking project will add approximately five miles of new mainline between railroad mileposts 105 to 110.5. The second track will also connect to a new wye track that will enable southbound travel from the new airport rail station once it is put into service in the summer of 2002.

[See story]

Latest Alaska Railroad Scuttlebutt - 2/1/03
From an anonymous source
The Alaska Railroad made its first DPU test on or about January 24 using three locomotives and 45 cars.  They lost continuity 18 times and have expressed dissatisfaction over the test.

There was a derailment at Reeves on January 31.  A local switcher (2000 series) was in use and one or two cars of a mixed freight went on the ground.  This delayed a southbound oil train six to seven hours.  This follows an "almost" derailment at Manley a couple of days earlier where one of the TNM hoppers bent an axle and almost rolled off the rail.  This delayed a northbound freight for a short time.

Work continues on a new siding between Dome and Happy (MP 459-460).  This should be completed in 2004.

Word has it that no future federal moneys will be coming in except what has already been promised.

There is a proposal out for a 70 foot steel bridge for Campbell Creek.  This is part of the double track efforts.  The Building and Bridges people have already been working on the approaches and abutments for this.

The railroad has been hauling Army vehicles recently.  Don't know if these are for training or deployment.

The cuts continue as four more people have been laid off from train service.

Alaska Railroad begins DPU testing - 1/29/03
From an anonymous source
The Alaska Railroad make its first DPU test on or about January 24.  They used three locomotives and 45 cars.  results are forthcoming.
Alaska Railroad eyes route to Greely - 1/27/03
From Trains.com
A bill to allow the Alaska Railroad to plot a rail route from its existing eastern end of track at Eielson Air Force Base, some four dozen miles east of Fairbanks, another 70 miles southeast to the U.S. Amos Fort Greely, near Delta Junction, is being introduced by the stators senate. 

The bill, if passed by both houses of state government, would allow the railroad to acquire the necessary right-of-way if further funding is approved for construction.

Alaska Railroad receives multiple On Board Services awards - 1/27/03
From Trains.com
Alaska Railroad has captured awards in seven categories from Onboard Services magazine including Overall Best Railroad. Other awards included first place in Safety, Equipment, Entertainment, Uniforms, and Food Services, and second place for On Board Services. 

These prestigious international awards involve competition against Amtrak, the Marcos industry partners, and a number of tourist operations around the world. 

Onboard Services magazine is an international publication focused on passenger services in the airline, cruise line, railroad, and duty-free markets. The Alaska Railroad provides passenger services to Seward, Whittier, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks, as well as flag stop service between Talkeetna and Hurricane. 

Rail bills on track - 1/23/03
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Tom Moran
The push for an extension to the Alaska Railroad to Fort Greely and beyond gained a little steam in the state Legislature on Tuesday. Senate Bill 31, introduced by Sen. John Cowdery, R-Anchorage, and co-sponsored by Sen. Gary Wilken, R-Fairbanks, allows the Alaska Railroad Corporation to plot a railroad corridor stretching from the existing railroad terminus down to the Canadian border and to acquire land and rights of way along that route.

[See story]

Artist on Track - 1/18/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Sandi Gerjevic
Sue Dranchak tells one of those career stories that begins aimlessly yet somehow seems to draw to a brilliant and logical conclusion. So much so that you find yourself wondering whatnots next for this emerging artist, the first Alaska Railroad Corp. employee commissioned to produce the companions annual painting, a hot collectors item and one in a series begun in 1979. Business was brisk at the Anchorage depot Saturday. Not for tickets for art. Rail fans lined up for Dranchak autograph on the 2003 limited-edition prints and posters. 

[See story]

MATI preservation plan - 1/13/03
MATI Trains of Thought
By Richard Richtmyer
MATI TRAINS OF THOUGHT    The Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, Inc. in Wasilla extends this invitation to individuals interested in developing a plan for the preservation, maintenance, display and future operation of railroad equipment at the Museum.   If you share any of those interests please come to the Museum for a meeting at 10 am on Saturday, January 18th.    Jeff DeBrock, Ed Kovich, Richard and Gail Clinch, Bob Nilles and Pat Durand have all committed to be there.   Now is the time to present the Museum Board of Directors with a plan and vision for the future of the rail collection which features two operational locomotives, two stored operational, three on exhibit and 27 other pieces of rolling stock.     For more information call Pat Durand at 907 696 2373 or email  sewtrain@att.net
Railroad to straighten track - 1/13/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Richard Richtmyer
The Alaska Railroad plans about $77 million in capital improvements this year, with some of the biggest projects happening in and around Anchorage. The sum is comparable to last year's spending. Three-quarters of the money will come from the federal government.

[See story]

ARRC Project Open House and locomotive update - 1/9/03
The Alaska Railroad Corporation held their project open house last night. They had poster boards touting proposals for the Anchorage yard. Here are three of the many they had on display: passenger car shop, yard expansion and locomotive fueling station. They also gave out a booklet explaining these proposals in more detail. [Webmaster's note: I can email you a copy of this booklet in Adobe Acrobat format. Please note it is 6MB is size.]

As of late November, the following locomotives are equipped with the new ECOTRAN Fuel Conservation System: 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 3001, 3002 and 3004. Locomotives 4001, 4003 and 4005 have the SMART START System.

ARRC Project Open Houses begin next week - 1/4/03
Alaska Railroad schedules open house to discuss proposed capital project plans for 2002 

Four events provide ample opportunity to participate: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Seward and Wasilla 

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The Alaska Railroad (ARR) invites the public to an open house on Tuesday, January 7, from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m., at the Anchorage Rail Depot, 411 West First Avenue. The venue provides an opportunity to review and comment on a proposed Program of Projects (POP) for 2003. 

The Anchorage Open House - the first of four such events - will showcase continuing and proposed capital improvement projects that are in various stages - from conceptual planning to construction. Project managers will be on-hand to explain projects that are located all along the Railroad system from Seward to Fairbanks, with an emphasis on Anchorage-area projects, including: 

Anchorage Yard Operations Center 
Anchorage Yard Locomotive Fueling System 
South Anchorage Double Track 
Anchorage Rail Capacity Improvements MP 110 - MP 114 
Ship Creek Intermodal Facilities and Pedestrian Amenities 
Anchorage-to-Wasilla Track Realignment 

Since 1996, the Railroad has received federal funding to repair and improve an aging mainline track, to modernize signal and safety equipment, to build new facilities, and to offer valuable new services. Many projects proposed in 2003 are funded all or in part by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) or the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). 

Alaska Railroad Project Open House events are also scheduled in: 
Fairbanks - 4:30-7:00 p.m., Thursday, January 9 - Alaska Railroad Depot at 280 N. Cushman. Emphasis will be on projects located in Interior Alaska. 
Seward - 5:00-7:00 p.m. Tuesday, January 14 - SeaLife Center. Emphasis will be on projects located in Seward and along the mainline leading from Anchorage to Seward. 
Wasilla - 4:30-7:00 p.m., Thursday, January 23 - Best Western Lake Lucille Inn - 1300 W. Lake Lucille Drive. Emphasis will be on projects located in and around the Mat-Su Valley. 

People unable to attend the open house events may visit www.AlaskaRailroad.com <http://www.alaskarailroad.com/>  for project information. Written comments may be e-mailed to public_comment@akrr.com or mailed to Alaska Railroad Capital Projects, P.O. Box 107500, Anchorage, AK 99510-7500. 

For more information, call Public Involvement Officer Stephenie Wheeler at 265-2671 or Public Affairs Officer Pat Flynn, 265-2695. 

Open House locations are accessible to individuals with disabilities. If special accommodations are needed, please contact the Railroad by calling TTY/TDD 265-2620, voice 265-2494, or via the Alaska Relay Service (ARS) TTY 1-800-770-8973 or voice 1-800-770-8255. 


Railroad expects drop in revenue - 1/2/03
Anchorage Daily News
The Associated Press
The Alaska Railroad expects an $8 million drop in revenues for 2003 due to a decline in freight after the loss of its Healy coal shipments last year.

The state-owned railroad is predicting a $1.1 million profit on revenues of $99 million in 2003. Last year the railroad estimated revenues of $107 million and profits of $4.2 million.

And the railroad doesn't expect to see revenues at last year's levels again until 2007, according to a five-year forecast prepared by the railroad. 

[See story]

Railroad projects revenues to drop - 1/2/03
By Steve MacDonald
The Alaska Railroad is expecting 2003 to be a lean year. 

According to railroad officials, hauling less freight will mean less profit. The railroad is projecting revenues to be around $99 million this year.

[See story]



Page created 2/1/03 and last updated 1/12/08