2003 News Archive
(July-December)
 
Resumption of coal shipments boosts railroad's revenues - 12/30/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Christina Sessions

Some surprise contracts in 2003 have increased projections for 2004 for the Alaska Railroad Corp. One of the driving forces of the increase is the resumption of coal shipments to South Korea from the Usebelli Coal Mine.

Projected revenues for 2004 are in the neighborhood of $104 million, with a net income of just over $9 million, said Pat Flynn, public affairs officer for the railroad.

Revenues were budgeted at $99 million for 2003; however the company will post higher earning than expected.

[See story]

Railroad plans on adding coaches, first-class option - 12/23/03
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Kyle Hopkins

The Alaska Railroad aims to take the "coach" out of passenger coaches.

Beginning with two new double-decker passenger cars, the company expects to add a costlier first-class option for ticket buyers by the 2005 tourist season.

The railroad is in the process of buying the cars now, which officials say will help update its fleet and increase passenger capacity. No price or manufacturer has been decided on, though Colorado Railcar, based in Fort Lupton, Colo., is a likely choice.

[See story]

Whittier tunnel reopens after 6,000 pound rock removed - 12/22/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Crystal Sherrer

The tunnel to Whittier reopened after a 6,000 pound rock that fell from the tunnel ceiling was removed.

The tunnel closed Friday around 4:30 p.m. and opened Saturday at 8:30 a.m.

Gordon Burton, the tunnel facility manager, said everything is back on schedule.

[See story]

Emergency Closure of the Whittier Tunnel - 12/19/03
Submitted by Robert Krol

Channel 2 News is reporting Emergency Closure of the Whittier Tunnel until further notice. A big rock has come down in the mesh on the roof. I think they estimated it as a 15,000lbs rock and say it will take at least 15 hours to get the tunnel cleared and reopened. [Update 12/20/03 - Channel 2 News is now reporting on the Late Edition, that DOT revised the weight of the rock down to about 6,000lbs and expect to have the tunnel open at regular time 8:30am Saturday.]

Channel 2 News also had a neat story on the McKeen Car rebuilding.
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Railroad's profits top forecasts - 12/10/03
Anchorage Daily News
By RICHARD RICHTMYER

The Alaska Railroad's revenue and profits for 2003 are likely to come in stronger than initially had been expected, preliminary estimates show.

Thanks in part to the resumption of coal shipments from Healy, a road construction project near Bird Creek and greater-than-anticipated deliveries of a petroleum product called naphtha, projected revenue for the year is about $108 million, said Patrick Flynn, a spokesman for the Alaska Railroad Corp.

That's about $5 million more than the roughly $103 million railroad executives targeted at the start of the year.

[See story]

GPS device keeps trains on track, on time, out of danger - 12/10/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Jeffrey Hope

Every year there seems to be a new way to use global positioning systems. GPS helps the military, hunters, hikers, boaters, even car drivers learn exactly where they are.

A project at the railroad is showing yet another use for GPS. The Alaska Railroad is the first in the country to install a new collision-avoidance system.

[See story]

Seward Christmas special - 12/8/03
Submitted by Pat Durand

The Alaska Railroad operated a Christmas Special to Seward on December 6, 2003. Three locomotives with 3014 in the lead along with P-30 delivered a 12 car train to the Alaska Railroad Cruise Ship Terminal in Seward. The passengers were greeted to a holiday bazaar in the terminal building and free shuttle bus service to local Seward retailers. The weather was cloudless and 20°F in Seward.
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Cement hopper lease - 12/4/03
Submitted by Robert Krol

The ARR wants to lease for 3 years 10 each 100 ton cement hopper. They are to be remarked for ARR 14201 - 14209. It is in the ARR Bid section on the ARRC webpage.
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2004 ARRC poster - 12/3/03
Submitted by Willow Peyton, ARR webmaster

I wanted to let you know that we have posted a preview of the 2004 poster online if you would like to check it out.

http://www.alaskarailroad.com/community/photo_annual_prints.htm

The poster signing in Anchorage will be January 3 (pending any schedule changes).
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Panel says Alaska ferry system should be run like a business - 11/23/03
Anchorage Daily News
By the Associated Press

An advisory board is recommending significant changes to Alaska's ferry system, including turning over some duties to the private sector.

The state Department of Transportation would operate the system more like a business under proposals by the agency's Marine Transportation Advisory Board.

The board voted unanimously last week to establish a transition team to build a commercial model for the operation of the Alaska Marine Highway System.

[See story]

Distributed power, locomotive modifications, SD70MACs - 11/20/03
Submitted by an anonymous source

The [distributed power] testing went well. The equipment performed as advertised. The export coal train has been running for some weeks now, but not in distributed power mode, yet. What was decided as a result of the testing was that more crew training, including simulator time, was needed before we could make it a regular part of operation. That is going on now.

The modification of all 52 locomotives, two cab/power cars and four RDC's to install digital data radios, GPS receivers, antennas and fuel level sensors is now complete. Various Alaska Railroad personnel can now watch all of these units on their desktop computer and see where they are, how fast they are going, what the unit number is and how much fuel is in each tank. This is stage one of the implementation of the collision avoidiance system. It looks like the Alaska Railroad is going to be the first railroad in North America to implement collision avoidiance, systemwide, routine operation, as opposed to "just a test."

The contract is signed with EMD on the eight SD70MAC-HEP locomotives and EMD is receiving material for the manufacture of those units. Schedule is for April release in two groups of four. All eight SD70's will be assembled in London, Ontraio. EMD is not using satellite shops at present. The Alaska Railroad is tacked onto a 75 unit CSX order. Those eight ARR units will be the last SD70MAC's built as EMD is switching over to a new model locomotive that meets Tier II emissions standards. The ARR didn't want that interim model locomotive as they plan to build it for only a few years before they bring out an H engined locomotive.

The SD70MAC locomotive numbers have been selected and specified in the contract. They will be 4317 through 4324. This comes about because the horsepower rating of the new ones is 4300 vs. 4000 for the original 16. The ARR did not want to start over with 01 through 08 as that would give SD70MAC's with duplicate final two digits which would make a potential for confusion and even dispatch errors that could affect safety.

The railroad is now storing some locomotives for the winter. Three leased GP38's have been returned to the vendor and four others have been stored in Anchorage. The railroad is now storing some AKRR owned locomotives. With the arrival of the eight new MAC's they may be able to store a few locomotives all year.

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Bridge update - 11/20/03
Submitted by an anonymous source

The ARR has out for bid two girder spans. One is 100' while the other is 120'. The 100' span will replace the southernmost 80' span crossing the Knik River (bridge 146.4). The ARR is constructing ten new concrete piers to replace the existing timber piers. These new piers are being built approximately 20' north of the existing piers. the ARR will use the new 100' span at the south end so they don't have a pier 20' from the south abutment. This work (pier const and span moving) is being done in-house.

The 120' span will be used to lengthen the opening at one of the ARR's Resurrection River crossings down at Seward, bridge 3.2. This will be a contract job.

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Williams sells Alaska holdings - 11/18/03
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Kyle Hopkins

Williams' North Pole oil refinery is on the verge of changing owners for the fourth time in roughly 25 years as the Oklahoma-based company announced Monday an agreement to sell the facility along with its 3 percent interest in the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and 26 convenience stores in the state.

The $265 million sale still hinges on the state reaching a long-term royalty oil contract with the buyers' and the Federal Trade Commission's approval, among other conditions.

[See story]

Railroad opens new track on Fort Richardson - 11/16/03
Kenai Peninsula News
By the Associated Press

Some of the Alaska Railroad's most curvy track has been replaced on Fort Richardson.

A new alignment culminating a year of work was completed two weeks ago on the Army post.

"Historically, the greatest degree of derailments has been on these curves," said Ernie Piper, railroad assistant vice president of operating safety told the Alaska Journal of Commerce.

[See story]

Distributed power update - 11/13/03
Submitted by an anonymous source

We have operated our first distributed power export coal train between Anchorage and Seward. Currently we are installing GPS systems on our locomotive fleet which has delayed full implementation of distributed power operations until the end of this month.

During the last year we have worked closely with Rail Sciences and completed numerous distributed power simulated runs across our railroad. Our first distributed power trip to Seward validated these simulations and we expect to expand distributed power operations throughout our system within the next 1-2 years.

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ARRC to build operations center - 11/11/03

Project Site: Anchorage, Alaska
Project Title & Contract Description: Anchorage Operations Center
The selected Design-Build firm will provide professional and management services, labor, supervision, materials and equipment necessary for the complete design and construction of a new operations center (“Project”). The Project consists of a three-story office building of approximately 20,000 sq.ft. to be located on an ARRC-owned parcel on East Whitney Road in Anchorage, Alaska. See Project Description and Scope of Work.

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Anchorage Historic Properties holds benefit - 11/8/03

Anchorage Historic Properties and invites you to join us at a unique fundraising event: "Making History, a benefit for Anchorage Historic Properties." A special Wine-tasting and Silent Auction Friday, November 14th, 2003, 6-9 P.M. at the Historic Alaska Railroad Depot, 411 W. 1st Ave., Anchorage, Alaska. Tickets just $75/person, VISA/MC/Amex accepted. RSVP TODAY! Tickets and more info now available at: 274-3600. Fine Wines poured by: BROWN JUG. Hors dŒoeuvres by: DIANNE'S RESTAURANT. Live Music by: THE JDN JAZZ PROJECT.

Meet artist Byron Birdsall for the unveiling of his watercolor tribute to our newest project: McKeen Motorcar 32

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State courts economic partner - 11/6/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Nicole Tsong

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian technically was not on an official visit to Alaska this week; he was only stopping on the way home.

But while Chen's stay may not have been official -- the United States doesn't formally recognize Taiwan -- he is still the leader of an economically important Asian country, and Alaska threw the best it had at him and his delegation of 140 for the 24 hours they were here. That included a train trip packed with Alaska business leaders, a run to scenic Grandview, and a display of sled dogs and sled, albeit with no snow.

Alaska was the third and last stop for Chen after a visit to New York -- not official, of course -- to pick up a human rights award and a trip to Panama to help celebrate the country's 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal.

[See story]

Leader's visit sparks hopes of more trade with Taiwan - 11/6/03
MSNBC News
By Gianna Trinca

Trade talks continued Wednesday between Alaskan and Taiwanese business leaders during President Chen Shui-bian's short visit to the Last Frontier. There's already talk of future trade opportunities in both the seafood and energy industries.

Before taking off Wednesday evening from the Anchorage airport, President Chen got a whirlwind tour of what Alaska has to offer. Even a scenic trip on the Alaska Railroad was mostly business.
"There are many minerals, oil, gas," said his tour guide, Gov. Frank Murkowski, pointing to the Alaska map laid out on the table between them.

[See story]

Of Taiwan and 2800s - 11/5/03
Submitted by an anonymous source

KTUU news reported last night that the Taiwan president will soon be making a train trip. I'm guessing a train was chartered from Anchorage to Girdwood.

Number 2806 is now stored serviceable and the rest of the 2800s will be in the process of being stored.

Railroad eyes link to Delta - 11/5/03
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Kyle Hopkins

Calling the proposal one of personal interest, Alaska Railroad President Pat Gamble said Tuesday the company is considering the possibility of rail access to Delta Junction.

"We're proposing this as a concept," Gamble said, adding the access would require about 80 miles of new track and two bridges, and would provide a first step toward linking the rail to Canada.

Gamble discussed the possibility of the new passenger service--which could include a contract with the military for commuting workers--along with future plans for hauling the Army's Stryker vehicles and potential long-term Interior rail realignment at a Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

[See story]

Fairbanks has turn in railroad debate - 10/29/03
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Kyle Hopkins

Ruth Pavey doesn't want to hear railroad cars rumbling within 100 feet of her condominium or drive home just feet away from a fuel-hauling engine nestled in the median of the Parks Highway.

A 28-year Fairbanks resident, Pavey joined more than 40 people who attended the last of three public meetings on proposed choices for Alaska Railroad realignment in the Interior Tuesday.

Pavey aired concerns about falling property values and unsafe roadways she said might result if one of the cheaper, faster options, called the Parks route, was built through west Fairbanks.

[See story]

Usibelli mine resumes coal shipments to South Korea - 10/28/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
The Associated Press

The first shipment from a new Usibelli Coal Mine agreement with South Korea was set to sail Friday.

Three major players in the deal - Usibelli, Hyundai Merchant Marine and Korea East-West Power- celebrated the event this week in Seoul as the Alaska Railroad Corp. prepared to purchase the Seward coal terminal.

Coal began arriving from Healy in late September, said terminal foreman Tom Reese. Workers began loading the first shipment of 40,000 tons on Tuesday.

[See story]

Task force unveils Interior railroad ideas - 10/28/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
The Associated Press

For the past 13 months, the Rail 2100 Task Force has been envisioning what the next century of rail use might be like in the Interior.

Created by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, the 17-member task force has been looking at the future of safety and the efficiency on the Alaska Railroad, its effect on the environment and public transportation needs.

The group will make its recommendations public at three meetings this month. The first is scheduled for Tuesday at Salcha Elementary School.

[See story]

Usibelli resumes shipments to South Korea - 10/17/03
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Kyle Hopkins

The foreman of the Seward Coal Facility expected the first shipment from a new Usibelli Coal Mine agreement with South Korea to sail today.

Three major players in the deal--Usibelli, Hyundai Merchant Marine and Korea East-West Power--celebrated the event this week in Seoul, as the Alaska Railroad Corp. prepares to purchase the Seward coal terminal.

Coal began arriving from Healy in late September, said terminal foreman Tom Reese. Workers began loading the first shipment of 40,000 tons on Tuesday.

[See story]

Task force to reveal Interior railroad ideas - 10/15/03
Anchorage Daily News
Associated Press

For the past 13 months, the Rail 2100 Task Force has been envisioning what the next century of rail use might be like in the Interior.

Created by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, the 17-member task force has been looking at the future of safety and the efficiency on the Alaska Railroad, its effect on the environment and public transportation needs.

[See story]

Group proposes rail changes - 10/13/03
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Kyle Hopkins

One-hundred years is a long time in the world of travel technology.
A century ago, carriage enthusiasts scoffed at gas-powered automobiles and the Wright brothers labored on their early inspiration to modern flight. And 1903 was also the year Alaska Central Railway built the state's first railroad--according to the Alaska Railroad Corp.--a 50-mile stretch originating in Seward.

Now, a group created by the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly to predict what kind of railroad infrastructure would best serve the Interior during the next century, is ready to take its recommendations public.

[See story]

Accident at railroad crossing - 10/10/03
From the Trooper's Dispatch Report

On October 8, 2003 at approximately 0931 hours Alaska State Troopers responded to a two vehicle injury at milepost 355.5 Richardson Highway. The investigation revealed that Wendy S. Schneider, 39 of North Pole, was driving a Laidlaw school bus northbound on the Richardson Highway near milepost 355. As Schneider was coming to a stop at the railroad tracks, Daniel Smith, 38, of Fairbanks, did not see here and rear-ended the school bus with his semi-tractor/trailer pushing schneider's bus into a railroad control pole. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts, and only Scheider received minor injuries to her arm. There was about $15,0000.00 damage to the school bus and about $30,000.00 damage to the semi truck. The railroad equipment sustained about $30,000.00 worth of damage. There was also a significant fuel spill from the semi's fuel tank and DEC was dispatched to the scene. DOT closed one lane of the northbound lane of the highway for cleanup efforts of the fuel and the fuel caused slippery road conditions. The speed limit was reduced to 355 mph though that zone.

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Alaska coal once again begins moving to Korea - 10/1/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
The Associated Press

Alaska coal is once again sailing on freighters to South Korea after shippers and a Healy coal producer completed details of a contract.

The agreement followed months of negotiations to restore an 18-year business relationship.

The agreement between Usibelli Coal Mine, the Alaska Railroad and Hyundai Merchant Marine will allow 400,000 tons of coal to be sold annually to Seoul, said Pat Flynn, railroad spokesman.

The shipments, cut off last September after Alaska lost ground to low-cost Pacific Rim producers, resumed Sept. 22 and will last for a minimum of two years. Two trainloads of coal each week will move from Healy to tidewater at Seward.

[See story]

Northern railway consept earns mixed Ottawa reviews - 9/26/03
Whitehorse Daily Star
By Jason Small

The federal minister of Transport is interested in the idea of a railway through the Yukon but there are others in Ottawa who don't think it's important.

Federal minister David Collenette was speaking in Whitehorse recently when he talked about the possibility of a railway starting in Alaska and going through the Yukon to connect to railway lines in southern Canada and the continental United States.

"This is a bold, innovative, national dream-type project that could dramatically transform the Yukon," Collenette said about the proposed railway.

He said people in Ottawa like himself, Yukon MP Larry Bagnell and Yukon Senator Ione Christensen see the potential of such a project and are pushing Ottawa to take a look at it.

However, others in Ottawa aren't so supportive, according to the minister. "Sometimes you just have to move ahead, and deal with the financial details," said Collenette, "because of the greater common good."

A railway of this magnitude would be very costly. Collenette said there are some people in Ottawa who wonder if this is really important and are more worried about such a massive project putting the country back into a deficit.

But the minister said a project like this will eventually pay back the country.

Bagnell said Collenette has noted the strong resistance to this project coming from people in Ottawa.

It's been almost three years since then-outgoing United States president Bill Clinton passed a bill which set aside $6 million US over three years to be spent on a study to look at the possibility of building an Arctic railway.

However, the funding stipulated that the study would be jointly conducted by both the Canadian and U.S. governments.

In the following three years, Ottawa has not said whether it would agree to take part in the study.

Alaskan politicians both within the state and in Washington have really pushed the idea of the railway.

Bagnell said the minister has indicated there have not been as strong a signal in favour of the railway coming from Washington and President George W. Bush's regime.

The Yukon MP said those signals have apparently not been as strong since former senator Frank Murkowski left Capitol Hill and became the governor of Alaska late last year.

Murkowski, who had been a senior Republican senator, had been the leading federal politician pushing the railway.

The leading state politician on the rail issue was Jeannette James, a former state congresswoman. James lost her seat last year and since then has been brought on by the governor to be his adviser on the railway issue.

There was no definite indication from Collenette on whether Canada will join the U.S. to do a study on a northern railway.
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Railroad settles with state for '99 spill - 9/26/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Joel Gay

Alaska Railroad Corp. agreed Thursday to pay $125,000 to the state of Alaska to settle penalties and damages stemming from the 1999 Gold Creek fuel spill, which left an estimated 100,000 gallons of jet fuel in the ground along the Susitna River.

The settlement should close the book on the Gold Creek saga, said railroad spokesman Patrick Flynn. "It's nice to put it behind us."

The railroad had already paid the state nearly $800,000 in clean-up and other costs for Gold Creek and four other spills. The $125,000 figure announced Thursday was based on a formula in state statutes, said a Department of Law spokeswoman.

[See story]

Usibelli rehires 6 formerly laid-off employees - 9/25/03
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Kyle Hopkins

Reviving its contract with South Korean buyers has allowed Usibelli Coal Mine to rehire six of the roughly 30 workers laid off when the contract was lost in 2002.

"We've hired three at this point and our bidding process will go on another week or so, and by the end of next week we should have everybody hired," said Usibelli General Manager Keith Walters.

Lower coal prices in the Pacific Rim made Alaska's coal less attractive to the Korean buyers, according to Associated Press reports, but the Alaska Railroad's commitment to buying a coal-loading terminal in Seward made Usibelli's coal more competitive.

[See story]

Seward's Centennial Celebration - 9/22/03
By Pat Durand

Casey and Pat Durand and Ed Kovich made a day trip to Seward to take in the Centennial celebration for the City of Seward. The City was established as the beginning point for the Alaska Central Railroad in 1903. The Centennial Special departed Anchorage at 7 AM September 20
bound for Seward. We chased the train along with a few other die-hards who braved the rain, wind and snow enroute to Seward. Here is the train crossing the Trail Lakes Bridge at Moose Pass with 3015, 3010 and 32 all on the head end. [See photo]

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Contract means Healy coal In Korea - 9/18/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Paula Dobbyn

Alaska coal will sail on freighters to South Korea once again.

After months of negotiations to restore an 18-year business relationship, Usibelli Coal Mine, the Alaska Railroad Corp. and Hyundai Merchant Marine finally reached new contracts that will allow 400,000 tons of Healy coal to be sold annually to Seoul, said Pat Flynn, railroad spokesman.

The shipments, cut off last September after Alaska lost ground to low-cost Pacific Rim producers, are set to resume Monday and will last for a minimum of two years. Two trainloads of coal each week will rumble down the tracks from Healy to tidewater at Seward.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad to purchase a patrol boat - 9/17/03
Submitted by Robert Krol

In the ARR Bid section, they have out for bid Seward Patrol Boat. The ARR will get into the Dock Patrol when cruise ships are in. They want a 25' or 27' Patrol Boat.
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Railroad receives$10 million to upgrade tracks - 9/15/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Steve Mac Donald

The Alaska Railroad received $10 million to finish getting its tracks ready for commuter trains. The federal money is part of the Department of Transportation's appropriations bill. A railroad spokesman says the money will pay for straightening and upgrading 20 miles of track that stretches from Eagle River to the Knik River Bridge. It's part of an ongoing project that will allow trains to travel faster and safer between Anchorage and Wasilla.

[See story]

Extra lane near airport's train tracks will speed traffic - 9/9/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Jeffrey Hope
If you commute near the airport, you'll appreciate this one. A new road construction project in Anchorage will speed up traffic heading in and out of the airport, while making the road a little safer, as well.

 

[See story]

Alaska Railroad reminds you: Please stay off tracks - 8/30/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Jeffrey Hope
Alaska Railroad officials say an Anchorage man was nearly hit by a train last weekend while trespassing on the tracks. As investigation into the incident continues, officials are trying to get the word out that even walking near railroad tracks is illegal.

Railroad officials asked us not to specify the exact location. It's a place south of Anchorage where hunters and fishermen routinely walk the tracks -- despite at least four "No trespassing" signs. 

[See story]

Alaska Railroad signs on for collision avoidance system - 8/26/03
From Trains.com Newswire
Submitted by Robert Krol
Quantum Engineering, Inc. of Orange Park, Fla., has been awarded a contract to provide the state-owned Alaska Railroad with a Collision Avoidance System. The system is designed to prevent train-to-train collisions, enforce speeds limits, and provide protection for maintenance workers. By use of an onboard computer being provided location information by global positioning satellites ? better known as GPS - the system is designed to alert the crew to approaching restrictions and if necessary, stop the train if they fail to respond appropriately.
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Stevens wants bridge, tracks - 8/20/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Richard Richtmyer
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens on Tuesday said funding for a Knik Arm crossing and an expansion of the Alaska Railroad are among his top priorities for Alaska transportation projects.

Alaska's senior senator, during a meeting with reporters at his Anchorage office, called a Knik Arm bridge "an absolute necessity" for the city's future. It was one of several topics he touched on during an hourlong Q&A session. 

[See story]

Cab cars, coaches and carmen - 8/18/03
Submitted anonymously
Number 32 was in the shops to have an air tank replaced on it, seems one of them had a pretty good leak. The only problem was that the railroad didn't have any spare tanks of that style, so they removed one from the P-31 to put onto the P-32. There also is a problem with the P-32 having a slight "list" to it. If you look at the rear of the 32, you'll notice it is leaning slightly to the fireman's side. The railroad is going to put some weight (it's been suggested 2 scrap wheels) inside the carbody to get it sitting level. As for the P-31, to be honest, I'm not sure at this point why the railroad hasn't been running it. Of course now the 31 is missing an air tank, and it will probably take them a few weeks to get another one.

The intent for buying numbers 31 and 32 was for allowing the railroad to run "push/pull" trains without having to tie up two locomotives. The railroad is already running a push/pull configuration on the airport run, and they want to do the same with the Seward run next season. The problem is that the railroad is running short on locomotive power, and on large (800kw) HEP units. The railroad is not supposed to run the 3013/3014/3015 on the Seward runs because of the "noise abatement law" in Seward. They are offended by the sound of a locomotive sitting there for hours on the dock running in throttle eight. Which, when you run the 13/14/15 as HEP supply units they run in throttle eight, even when they're sitting. Unless you put them in "standby" position, and then they run at about throttle position 6.5, just below the RPM level at which the turbo will clutch up. This is due to the fact that on these units, you are getting your HEP power from the main generator, and you must maintain that high of an engine RPM to get the proper frequency. So since the railroad can't use these units on the Seward run, and they'd prefer not to use them on the airport run, for the same reason, this leaves us with only the P-30 for an 800 Kw HEP. Couple this with the fact that the railroad needs a unit at both ends of a train for push/pull operation, and they really don't want to waste a unit on the smaller trains, when they only need one unit to pull the train but are using two units just so they can have a "cab" at the other end of the train, and you can see where an 800Kw "cab car" will be very handy! It seems that so many of their trains (passenger) are just getting too long to be powered (HEP) by the bag cars, and the 3009/3010/3011, which the smaller HEP gensets. That's why those new MACS, four of which will be HEP equipped, will be so handy as well. They will no longer be so "tight" on HEP availability. 

Did you know also that the railroad is ordering four brand new coaches from Colorado rail car? They are having planning meetings at this time over them. They will be the same basic configuration as the Grandview coaches, with the exception that these will not have the galleys in them as the Grandview coaches do. The hope is to have them late next year, but that will pretty much be up to Colorado Rail Car! 

Did you also notice that the railroad is hiring three carmen, three machinists, and two electricians (they had a rec. out for one electrician a few weeks ago, and just poted a rec for two more!!) The railroad, she's a growing, and they have need of more people! 

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Train depot at fair means big changes -- next year - 8/12/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Jeffrey Hope
It's been in the planning stages for years -- a construction project in the Valley will affect fairgoers next year. This month, the Alaska State Fair begins the bidding process on a $2.3 million transportation project. 

Next year at this time, there will be a significant change to the fairgrounds as you enter the parking lot from the Glenn Highway. The fair will have a new entrance and a new railroad depot. The depot will be about where the main sign stands.Vehicles just dropping off passengers will have an alternative route to allow them to do so.

[See story]

Colorado Railcar promotes self-propelled car in Alaska - 8/12/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Christina Sessions
Imagine driving in to work from the Matanuska Valley. Suddenly traffic begins to slow and soon comes to a standstill. The radio reports that an accident at the Highland exit on the Glenn Highway inbound has reduced traffic flow to one lane. You dial your cell phone to let the office that you will be late -- again. 

Now imagine stepping into a comfortable rail car with your latte and newspaper. The train pulls out of the depot at its scheduled time and arrives in Anchorage less than an hour later. 
That is the vision that advocates of a commuter rail promoted during a demonstration of a new self-propelled commuter rail car. 

Representatives from Colorado Railcar in cooperation with the Alaska Railroad Corporation brought the rail car to Alaska to promote it to railroad officials and legislators as part of a tour through the United States and British Columbia. 

[See story]

Railroad thanks Salvation Army with donation- 8/11/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Crystal Sherrer
The Salvation Army got a surprise thank-you Friday for a job well done. 

Last month, it sent two mobile canteen units to Hurricane Gulch to feed railroad workers repairing flooded tracks. To show its appreciation, the railroad made a $2,500 donation to the nonprofit organization Friday morning.

[See story]

Keen on a McKeen - 8/9/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Richard Richtmyer
As the Alaska Railroad and mass-transit advocates plan for the future of passenger rail travel in the state, another group is aiming to preserve a piece of its past. 

Anchorage Historic Properties, a nonprofit group, has assumed ownership of an antique rail car that was retired from service in Alaska about 60 years ago. 

The group aims to restore the car and put it on display in downtown Anchorage, where it could serve a dual purpose, maybe as a coffee shop or tourist information center, executive director Craig Harpel said. 

[See story]

MATI Trains of Thought - 8/7/03
By Pat Durand
The MATI Train Crew turned out to participate in the Yard/Rummage and tailgate sale at the Museum on Aug. 2&3.   Saturday saw a steady flow of customers picking up treasures provided by Pat Durand,  Ken Elmore and Ed Kovich.   On a perfect day for such an event, Gail and Richard Clinch generated donations for a $20.00 challenge so #1604 could be started for ambiance.  Many young potential railroaders got to toot the horn and listen to the rumble.   Those donations were exceeded by fuel costs demonstrating the difficulty or running even a very short line railroad in the black.   Due to the congestion in the parking lot we did not operate the Chitina AutoRailer.   The Black Mariaha made a few revenue runs on the rails, usually with mothers and small children while dads were out chasing the very abundant Alaskan Wild Salmon. 

By 2:00 PM on Sunday the rains started and the decision was made to donate some of our larger items to the Museum Rummage Sale and retreat.   Museum Board Member Dick Wilson, orchestrated an entertaining and effective sales pitch in the parking lot   He was assisted by Bob Nilles facilitating the loading and unloading of tools, tires, pianos and lots of big stuff. 

The weekend netted $480.00 for the individuals that participated in the Train Crew Sale Table for which we paid $25.00.   Randy Thompson's 2004 Alaska Railroad Calendar and Andy Tejral's video RAILFAN'S VIEW OF THE ALASKA RAILROAD proved to be popular items along with iced Pop and Water on the warm Saturday. 

I have been advised that the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, Inc. is no longer accepting directed cash donations. When you make a monetary donation to MATI it must go to the general fund in order to be tax deductible.    The balance of $464.78 in the MRS1 1718/1818 Preservation Fund has been transferred to the general fund account.     This will have little impact  on the railroad operations as most of our members provide labor or in kind donations to move these projects forward.   In-kind-donations should be processed with the appropriate form in the Museum Office to ensure you have documentation for tax purposes. 

There are no events in August that require staffing by the MATI Railroad Crew.   I personally will be taking a vacation from Museum activities to dedicate some time to domestic projects.     On going cleaning and painting projects welcome volunteer crews so if you want to be added to the call list,  let me know at 907 696 2373.
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The new face of commuter travel? - 8/5/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Kyle Hopkins
Beneath its dining tables and recliner seats, a new breed of rail car being considered for use by the Alaska Railroad runs on a pair of souped-up bus engines. 

Builders of the self-propelled passenger car hope it eventually will have something else in common with its four-wheeled cousins--ferrying commuters around Alaska. 

[See story]

Former governor named to railroad board of directors - 8/3/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Megan Badino
Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski named the Director of the Port of Anchorage and former Gov. Bill Sheffield to the board of directors of the Alaska Railroad Corp. 

Murkowski made the announcement Friday along with several appointments to the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority. 

[See story]

Diesel bus on tracks - 7/27/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Jeffrey Hope
Over the next three weeks, Alaska will get a glimpse into what may be the state's future -- commuter rail service. A Colorado company is showing off an impressive train, which looks kind of like a diesel bus on railroad tracks. 

It's called a DMU -- Diesel Multiple Unit -- and it may be the country's next generation of commuter rail cars. The company that makes them has four contracts already with communities around the United States, including Portland, Ore. 

The car moves in both directions, can pull up to three passenger cars and is very fuel-efficient. 

[See story]

MATI Trains of Thought - 7/27/03
By Pat Durand
July 25, 2003 saw the arrival of the Colorado Rail Car DMU for display on the Wasilla siding.   The weeds were pretty high and the siding was littered with dunage from recent unloading.   Pat and Tom made a quick trip to MATI and returned with weed whacker and trash bags.  Twenty minutes later the scene was much more inviting and the MATI crew had done their civic duty for the City of Wasilla. 

Preparations continue for the Tailgate/yard/garage sale and RR swap meet on August 2 and 3.   The Citina AutoRailer and Black Mariaha will be in operation for visitors who wish to make a small donation for a ride on the short line.

At the Museum, the job of cleaning F7 locomotive #1500 continued.  Wipers were added and the nose waxing finished.   The locomotive looks ready for another run as she posed for photographers.    This is the last Alaska Railroad F7 A unit still in the retirement uniform of Blue and Yellow. 
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New Self-Propelled Passenger Railcar Visits Alaska Railroad - 7/22/03
ARRC Press Release
Railroaders: on Monday, July 28 the DMU will be on display in front of the Anchorage Depot for you and your families to take a sneak preview.   The DMU will also be at the Fairbanks Picnic (at the Fbx depot) on Tuesday, August 5.
 

New Self-Propelled Passenger Railcar Visits Alaska Railroad

Colorado Railcar, the manufacturer of a new generation of self-propelled passenger railcar, will demonstrate its product on the Alaska Railroad during late July and early August.  Known by the technical name Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU), the railcar may prove useful as Alaskans seek future transportation options.

"We're excited to show off this new commuter railcar of the future for Alaskans," Tom Janaky, Colorado Railcar's Vice-President of Sales, said. "We feel this self-propelled passenger railcar can play a valuable role in strengthening Alaska's surface transportation network, as well as relieving traffic congestion on the Glenn Highway."

One advantage of DMU equipment is its utilization of "push-pull" technology, which allows a train to reverse direction quickly, an important factor in shuttle and commuter rail operations.  This equipment also provides very fuel-efficient performance, is extremely environmentally friendly, and meets federal safety standards for passenger operations on freight railroads.

"The Alaska Railroad is pleased to welcome Colorado Railcar and its new equipment to Alaska," Pat Gamble, ARRC President & CEO, said.  "This type of railcar has great potential as we look to expand passenger services and take advantage of the new Bill Sheffield Alaska Railroad Depot at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport."

Public displays of the self-propelled passenger railcar include:
 
 
Date Location Address Time
Friday, July 25 Palmer Depot  North Valley Way 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 26 Wasilla Depot 415 E. Railroad Ave. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Sunday, July 27 Wasilla Depot 415 E. Railroad Ave.  10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Monday, July 28 Anchorage Depot  411 W. First Avenue 4 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Tuesday, July 29 Anchorage Depot  411 W. First Avenue 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Friday, August 1 Seward Cruise Ship Terminal 913 Port Avenue 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Monday, August 4 Fairbanks Depot 280 North Cushman 2 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Thursday, August 7 Talkeetna Depot  Talkeetna Road 9 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Saturday, August 9 Girdwood Depot Brudine Road 1 p.m - 3:30 p.m.

Public displays are accessible to individuals with disabilities.  If special accommodations are needed, please contact the railroad bycalling 907-265-2695, TTY/TTD 265-2620, or via the Alaska Relay Service (ARS) 1-800-770-8255, TTY/TTD 1-800-770-8973.

Colorado Railcar representatives will attend the public displays to provide more information about their products.  Further information is also available on the web at http://www.coloradorailcar.com

Washout photos - 7/22/03
Submitted by friendly neighborhood webmaster
In case you haven't noticed, the Alaska Railroad has some great photos of the current washout: north view, south view and aerial view
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DMUs, SD70MACs and Cab Cars - 7/21/03
Submitted anonymously
(1)  The Colorado Railcar DMU prototype is currently on the barge, northbound to Whittier with arrival on 23 July.  It will operate for test and demonstration purposes through 9 August and then will be in the shop in Anchorage for three days for annual inspection before returning to Seattle on the barge.  There is no plan or commitment at present to purchase.  There is interest and in fact we worked with Colorado Railcar in the early design phases furnishing them the profile of our Anchorage-Seward route for horsepower, adhesion and tractive effort modeling.  Both Alaska Railroad and Colorado Railcar are interested to see how the car performs in fact on that route.  The original idea on the Seward route was a five car train set with a DMU on either end and three low level dome cars sandwiched in between. We are pleased that Colorado Railcar has made the car available for this testing and demonstration.

(2) The commitment that has been made by action of the board of directors and by letter of intent to EMD is to purchase 8 each dual service SD70MAC locomotives.  The first four are scheduled for release from EMD's plant on 12 April 2004 with the second four to follow by 22 April.  With this schedule, they will be on the railroad for the start of the busy season of 2004.  They are dual purpose as a result of working with EMD to design a SD70MAC that will produce a nominal 800 KW of HEP for passenger trains - electronically.  This is a "first' from the standpoint of having a passenger SD70MAC locomotive, but EMD developed the basic technology for an order of locomotives for the Long Island Railroad some years ago. Essentially, by the flick of a toggle switch, the locomotive converts from freight to passenger service or the reverse.  You can see the advantage of this in our very seasonal operational pattern.

Purchase of these locomotives will make it possible to discontinue the leasing of locomotives for the busy season (7 leased this year) and give us some expansion capacity looking out five years.  This is part of our locomotive replacement plan recognizing that 17 of our GP locomotives will hit 30 years of age between now and 2008.  EMD tells us that these eight locomotives will be the last SD70MAC's built.  For commonality reasons, as well as need, we wanted to act now before the SD70MAC's are no longer available and we did not want to buy the interim EPA Tier II locomotive that EMD will be offering for a few years after 2004.  We will not be selling any GP locomotives, but will store some pending further growth of the business and therefore extend their lives.

Road numbers for these locomotives will be 4317 through 4324.  This recognizes the 4300 horsepower of the new locomotives as compared with the 4000 horsepower of the 16 original SD70MAC's, but continues the number sequence of the SD70MAC's.  I did not want to add operational confusion by having two SD70MAC's with number 01, 02, etc.  I presume that the locomotives will also be named as were the first 16, but I defer to Pat Flynn [ARRC Public Affairs] for that question.

The new SD70MAC's will not have their HEP installations complete at time of delivery due to long lead time items that will not be available during the production run, so the HEP installation will be completed in Anchorage in October.  We will have to continue through the 2004 passenger season using HEP supplied by the six GP locomotives equipped with HEP, the P-30 power car and the two new power/cab cars (Numbered 31 and 32) that are currently enroute to us on the Union Pacific RR.

(3)  The 31 and 32 power/cab cars were released from National Railway Equipment Company early this month and are slowly making their way toward Seattle.  They are modified and rebuilt F40PH locomotives, built to our spec with 800 KW HEP generator plants where the locomotive prime mover used to be.  These two cars will free up one GP locomotive and one
RDC that are currently serving as substitute cab cars in push-pull passenger train service.

[Webmaster's note: If you have specific questions, I will attempt to pass them on.]

MATI Trains of Thought - 7/21/03
By Pat Durand
MATI Trains of Thought offers an invitation to all railroaders to participate in a Tailgate/garage/antique sale at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry on August 2 and 3 from 10 am to 5 pm.  I suggest you come early to get the good deals since the last sale of this type was sold out by 3 pm.  You can contact the Museum at 907 376 1211 if you or your group would like to participate with your own sale space at the Museum.

 MATI Train Crew will be sponsoring a table for a RR swap meet and sale.  If you have excess inventory in modeling supplies, equipment, books or railroadiana bring it on.  Please price everything and have your name on each item along with an inventory list. The MATI Train Crew will merchandise the table of materials with 10% of gross sales going to the Museum as a donation for rail projects.  Contact Pat Durand at 696 2373 for collection of sale items or bring them to the Museum on Aug. 2 and 3. 

Ride the Black Mariaha and the Chitina Auto Railer while you are at the Museum in exchange for a donation to be collected by the conductor.  Volunteers to assist with the sale table and operations will be welcome. The Alaska Live Steamers will be in operation giving train rides for the weekend as well.

On July 20th projects were moved forward as Ed Kovich installed the headlight lens he had repaired and cleaned for RS1 #1000.  Equipped with a 200 watt lamp we can light up the entire park now.  Ed, Richard and Pat then attacked a very dirty project, removing the 8 locomotive batteries from F7 #1500.  Long out of service these batteries were disconnected and removed to pallets using the MATI forklift.  Next will be cleaning the inside of the F7 car body.

Richard and Gail Clinch have adopted maintenance on GE #1604.  With lots of elbow grease and turtle wax the GE 80 ton  locomotive paint has come to life.  Touch up paint is being applied to walkways, railings and steps.  When the donation can has $20.00 in it #1604 will be fired up on August 2 and again on August 3.  Volunteers will be needed to man the sale table and assist with operations on that weekend.  On July 26th at 10 am we will have a training session for those folks who want to help with operations.

Axel Hessler, a friend and railfan who resides in Germany,  has followed our preservation of MRS1 locomotive #1718 with keen interest.  He just sent Pat Durand an HO scale model of a NOHAB locomotive in the original Belgian State Ry paint scheme from the mid 1950's.  Our very own #1718 is the Grandfather of all the NOHAB locomotives in Europe as it was sent to the Continent in 1954 as a demonstrator of Diesel Electric technology.  As a multigauge locomotive originally built for close clearances in Europe #1718 then carried Military Railway Service #1818 and was an ideal ambassador.  Built under license from EMD the double ended control cab locomotive rides the same trucks, mechanical assembly and electronics as our #1718.  Can you see the family resemblance?
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Rain disrupt Anchorage-to-Fairbanks train service - 7/20/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Dan Fagan
Flooding continued to keep the train tracks between Talkeetna and Denali National Park closed Friday, disrupting the Alaska Railroad's most popular route. 

The closure is diverting hundreds of cruise ship passengers during one of the busiest times of the Alaska tourism season. 

The closure means you can't take a train from Anchorage to Fairbanks, and this is the very heart of the tourist season. 

[See story]

Railroad washouts - 7/18/03
Based on e-mails from Robert Krol
Channel 2 News is reporting the ARR main track is out of service due to washouts north of Talkeetna.  It didn't say when the track is expected to be back in service.

The ARR website has a press release for the washouts:

     http://www.akrr.com/corporate/documents/pr-Floodclosesrailroad071703.pdf

Photos 1, 2, 3
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Rail travel a washout - 7/18/03
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Kyle Hopkins
A group of travelers expecting to see the Interior by rail found themselves finishing the trip by other means Thursday after heavy rains washed out railroad bridges.

Flooding poured under the tracks on bridges at 288 Mile and 305 Mile, near Hurricane, said John Binkley, Alaska Railroad board chairman. 

Passenger and cargo trains already had been halted after waters eroded gravel around bridge abutments. To get them to their destinations, railroad officials put passengers on buses for part of their trip.

[See story]

Rain, snow flood Denali area - 7/18/03
Anchorage Daily News
By Peter Porco and Zaz Hollander
A rare summer storm fed by a cold mass of air dumped snow and rain on Denali National Park and Preserve and along the Parks and Denali highways during the day and overnight Wednesday, flooding streams, washing out roadbeds and forcing the Alaska Railroad to take its passengers off two trains and bus them to their destinations.

A combination of snow and rain equal to nearly 6 inches of water fell on Cantwell, south of Denali National Park, in a 48-hour period ending Thursday morning, according to the National Park Service.

[See story]

Lionel to produce new F3 locomotives - 7/17/03
Based on an email from Robert Krol
Lionel is going to produce some O scale model ARR F3 locomotives. It is in the old as delivered in the 1950s paint scheme. Lionel was going to make it in the 1950s, but never did. Someone got the decals and paint work up sheets from EBay a few months ago. 

- All four units it will be around $1,000.
- They will come in a AA set for around $600
- An unpowered B unit for around $160
- A powered B unit for around $240.

Lionel will also come out with a 4 pack Superliner pass. car set. It is a double decker coach that looks like the Amtrak cars.

Railroad to buy 8 new locomotives - 7/15/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Christina Sessions
I hear the train a comin' -- make that eight trains. The Alaska Railroad Corp. has received approval from its board of directors to purchase eight new 4,300 horse-power SD70 MAC locomotives at a cost of nearly $19 million, said Pat Gamble, president of the corporation. 
"This is a substantial investment for a small railroad like us," he said. 

Over the next five years, 17 of the railroad's locomotives will reach the end of their productive lives. For a locomotive, that means two million rail miles or 30 years. 

[See story]

Whittier reaches agreement with cruise company - 7/10/03
Kenai Peninsula Online
Associated Press
Princess Tours has reached an agreement that will bring tens of thousands of cruise ship passengers to Whittier next summer. 

The move follows the Whittier City Council's decision in April to repeal a cruise-ship head tax and exempt Princess from other fees. 

The cruise and tour company, based in Santa Clarita, Calif., will reroute four ships to Whittier that now stop in Seward. The vessels, carrying around 2,000 passengers each, will make 36 stops in Whittier between May and September. 

[See story]

Railroad eliminates 'clickety-clack'- 7/8/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Christina Sessions
Track rehabilitation is an ongoing process for The Alaska Railroad Corporation, but this year they have a new and improved method. The railroad is replacing the bolted rail that it has previously used with continuously welded rail on the corridor between Anchorage and Wasilla. 

"This is big stuff," said Terry Hinman, manager of welded rail for the railroad. "It is a huge step forward for this railroad." 

Installation of the new rail began June 2; however, crews had been working since March welding the rail together. 

[See story]

Alaska Railroad updating track - 7/8/03
The Associated Press
The Alaska Railroad Corp. is replacing the bolted rail that it has previously used with continuously welded rail on the corridor between Anchorage and Wasilla. 

"This is big stuff," Terry Hinman, manager of welded rail for the railroad, told the Alaska Journal of Commerce. "It is a huge step forward for this railroad." 

Crews have been welding the rail together since March. Installation of the new rail began June 2. 

The old sections of rail, which average 80 feet long, are taken out and welded together in 800- to 1,200-foot lengths. The lengths are then braced into place on the track and welded together using a thermal weld. 

[See story]

HCR2 passes - 7/7/03
Submitted anonymously
Just wanted to see if you heard about the house Resolution 2 or HCR2 which passed. It encourages the ARRC to extend rail to Fort Greely to support military, agricultural and resource development activities. It passed the legislature and is now Legislative Resolve 12. There were a few more issues that will impact the railroad passed or postponed in Juneau. 

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Downtown merchants sing the railroad blues - 7/7/03
MSNBC News (KTUU)
By Jeffrey Hope
A slow summer is leading to some serious accusations in downtown Anchorage this summer. Many downtown businesses are reporting an off-summer -- and some say the railroad is to blame. 

"I miss you, darling, more and more every day," sings a sidewalk guitarist. It's the same sad little tune that downtown businesses have been singing all summer long. Where are those darling tourists? At Cabin Fever, a gift shop downtown, the manager says June was off 10 percent. Other days have been worse. Nights have been dismal. 

[See story]

Railroad receives good, bad news on projects - 7/7/03
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Christina Sessions
The Alaska Railroad Corp. has received a green light from the Federal Transit Administration for its new Ship Creek Intermodal Transportation Center, but the construction of a similar facility in Fairbanks has hit a snag. 

The transit administration recently completed a review of the railroad's environmental assessment study for the ship creek project and issued a finding of no significant impact. Approval of the National Environmental Policy Act-mandated study opens the door for the railroad to move forward with the project. 

[See story]

Locomotive rebuilds - 7/7/03
Based on an email from Robert Krol
The ARR has out for bid: Rebuilding the following locomotion. 

3005 - Cracked Block - shipped immediately 
2801 
2003 
2007 
2006 

They will also receive the new paint scheme.  I like the old black scheme on the 3005. 
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Athearn to create HO scale SD70MAC - 7/7/03
Based on an email from Craig Walker, Athearn Developement Division
We are beginning the process of tooling "railroad specific" details for our forthcoming SD70MAC models. 

For the Alaska Railroad version we will be doing the following items:  Electrical cabinet filter box, modified left-side handrails and winterization hatch. 

Any and all photos, drawings, etc., of the above and any other Alaska-specific details, "walk-around" photos and paint chips would be greatly appreciated and would, of course, help to ensure an accurate model. 
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ARRC to buy more SD70MACs - 7/7/03
Based on an email from Mike Ferguson
I just heard from my boss yesterday (6-29-03) that the board of directors for the ARRC has put in a order of 8 more SD70MACs with HEP set up in them the estimated time of delivery is late 2004, this will also be the last batch of SD70MACs built by EMD. 
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Leased air dumps - 6/20/03
Based on an email from Robert Krol
On Monday evening I was leaving Anchorage for Seward.  On the O'Malley overpass an Alaska Railroad train was heading out of town.  It was some type of work train with orange air dumps.  I tried to get a picture, but I was driving at the time and only got the overpass and the top of car.  Looks like the Alaska Railroad leased some orange air dumps.  Don't know when they arrived.

[Webmaster note: Here is a photo of one just before it was sent up by barge to Alaska]
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Princess to construct docks in Whittier - 6/19/03
Submitted anonymously
Word on the street in Whittier is that Princess is going to start construction on the new Whittier Dock on Friday, when the equipment arrives.  Supposedly Princess will have the Alaska Railroad run a cruise train out of Whittier.
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MATI Trains of Thought - 6/16/03
By Pat Durand
I sure hope the Trains Unlimited Tour Group had as much fun as the MATI Train Crew during their visit on Friday, June 13th, 2003. In defiance of superstition the day went without mishap as the TUT tour lead by Chris Skow enjoyed the best weather day of the year in bright sun and 70 degrees. MATI train crew members, Richard and Gail Clinch operated #206 the Black Mariaha with passengers, and everyone got a ride on the Chitina Auto Railer driven by Jeff DeBroeck. Visitors came from Canada, UK, Australia and all about the US.

Pat Durand, Volunteer Rail Curator, lead a walking tour of the rail exhibits featuring the Harding 1923 Dodge Touring Car, the 1917 Holt 45 tractor, and the traditional rail items including the "air" Jordan Spreader. If you want to know the rail connection to the car and tractor you will have to visit MATI. Lunch was enjoyed in the park and catered by an ambitious red squirrel. Railroad soup (don't ask) and Subway sandwiches hit the spot. 

Ex U.S. Air Force GE switcher #1604 was demonstrated with a start up for the visitors, with bells, horns and other apparatus demonstrated. The locomotive fleet was open for inspection as were the speeders and box car storage areas.

Two trips over the Alaska Central Railroad behind the 1/8 scale ARR #1500 handled the volume of traffic visiting on the Alaska Live Steamers track. Just at the conclusion of the trip, Jack Klingbiel, the founder of the Alaska Live Steamers, arrived to hostle his massive new pair of SD70 locomotives out for their first run at the track. The only thing missing was steam.

CEO of the Consolidated Southwestern RR, Marty Quaas and director of Harvey House Services, Agnes Quaas, graciously hosted the group to a picnic barbecue dinner at their home up Knik River Valley. The busy day was closed out by an operating session on the HO scale CSW RR. 

Some of the tour members were impressed enough to extend their stay in the valley. Chris Skow and Richard Reiff were already planning for next years tour at MATI.

Thanks to all who made the day a success. MATI Train Crew members volunteered 327 hours over the past 4 months to make it happen and enjoyed every minute. Next short term objective is to operate the Chitina Auto Railer and Black Mariaha at the Wasilla 4th of July Parade. 

Remember, you too could be working on the railroad!

Gas line moves forward - 6/13/03
By Tom Moran
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Alaska's iron horse could help spur on a gas pipeline through a bill ratified Wednesday by Gov. Frank Murkowski. 

House Bill 267, sponsored by House Oil And Gas Committee chairman Vic Kohring, R-Wasilla, authorizes the Alaska Railroad Corp. to issue up to $17 billion in tax-exempt bonds--which could mean the biggest bond sale in state history--in order to finance a natural gas pipeline project running from the North Slope. 

Private builders of a gas line would use the bond proceeds to pay for the pipeline, then pay the railroad back in full for the bonds, interest and any costs of the sale. The bill could have a major impact on efforts to woo gas line backers, who would potentially save more than $1 billion during the life of a project. 

[See story]

New track to be placed in service - 6/10/03
Based on an email from an anonymous source
The piece of track that connects the north end of Turnagain siding to the south end of Campbell siding will be in service tomorrow.   It didn't get finished last year, because the railroad had to construct a new bridge over Campbell Creek.  As soon as they make the cut-in tomorrow, all trains will be routed onto the new track through a crossover at MP 109.5 and back over through a crossover at MP 107.2.  This will allow them to compact the new track with some heavy gravel trains, and do some 
needed work on the old track.  When it's all said and done, the railroad will have two parallel tracks between MP 105.8 and MP 110.7.  Next month the south end will be extended to MP 105.1.  Both ends of these two tracks will be through 25 MPH turnouts, both of which will eventually be dual-control switches.  This project will allow the railroad to keep all the gravel trains over on the old (west) track, and keep the new (east) track open for passenger trains.  The railroad is looking at raising the speed on the new track (south of MP 108) to 40 MPH.   Here is a PDF copy of the AutoCad drawing of South Anchorage. 
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Airport depot clearance issues - 6/10/03
Submitted anonymously
The curved track at the platform is another complication.  The platform construction was less than perfect, but not too bad.  One of the two tracks was not quite level (and may still not be), and it is tilted in the direction which makes swing motion trucks swing the car or loco towards the platform.  Because the Alaska Railroad's equipment never had to clear a close obstruction at that level, they added things like snow plows (which changes handrails) and new style fuel fillers that exceed the standard clearance line.  They found that they have a couple of EMD locos with non-standard jacking pads.  They never noticed it until one hit the platform.  I think fans would be interested to know the alaska Railroad has a high level platform there and since it is the first outside of electrified territory anywhere west of, well, the Northeast Corridor I think. 
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AIDEA sells terminal to railroad - 6/10/03
By Tim Bradner
Alaska Journal of Commerce
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority's board has approved the sale of the state-owned authority's 49 percent interest in the Seward coal terminal to the Alaska Railroad Corp. for $5.52 million. 

AIDEA's decision, at a May 29 board meeting in Healy, clears the way for the railroad to finalize a separate agreement to acquire the 51 percent of the terminal owned by Hyundai Merchant Marine (America) Inc., a Korean-owned firm. 

[See story]

Gamble: Railroad's role unchanged - 6/9/03
By Christina Sessions
Alaska Journal of Commerce
The Alaska Railroad was originally built to deliver Alaska's natural resources to market, and that mission is just as important today as it was nearly a century ago, according to railroad president and chief exuctive Pat Gamble. 

Gamble treated the audience at the World Trade Center Alaska to a history lesson May 29, as he spoke of the past, present and future of the railroad and the importance of a rail connection to tidewater in Alaska. 

[See story]

The art of juggling trains - 6/7/03
By Jeffrey Hope
MSNBC News (KTUU)
What do cruise ships, construction companies and freight operators have in common? 

Answer -- they all want the railroad to move their trains as quickly as possible on the tracks between Palmer, Anchorage, Seward and Whittier. 

The problem is that only one long piece of track links all those locations. It's up to a dispatcher to manage those tracks, and make sure every train gets where it's going. 

[See story]

Airport train terminal is for visitors only? - 6/7/03
From the Anchorage Daily News
Airport train terminal is for visitors only? I smell a class-action lawsuit.  Doesn't anyone read the paper anymore? You recently reported that the new $26 million train terminal at the airport was up and running. You also spelled out who couldn't use it: you and I, the people who paid for it!  It seems that the train is for the use of the cruise ship passengers, and average citizens can't use it. What I don't understand is why people aren't up in arms over this. I understand not many of us want to take this train to Seward, or back to the airport, but deny me boarding? Someone better think this over before I decide that a class-action suit is appropriate.  Perhaps Gov. Frank Murkowski can find a better use of federal funds for rail use by connecting us to the Lower 48, benefiting the whole state as opposed to tourists only. I also see that the Alaska Railroad is planing some growth in Ship Creek. Any chance us slobs might use it? -- Scott Robart, Anchorage 
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Latest Scuttlebutt - 6/7/03
Submitted anonymously
The railroad has been sending out people to check on those employees who have called in sick.  Sounds like a trust or CYA issue. 

The south Anchorage extension (double track from approximately 105.7 to 110.8) will open for business on June 10.  They are currently laying rails in Campbell Creek. 

We've seen at least three of the leased locomotives.  There will eventually will be nine total.  They are primarily used on work trains and northbound freight. 
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Latest Scuttlebutt - 6/1/03
Submitted anonymously
The DMU demonstrator units from Colorado Railcar will arrive in Seattle on July 14th.  Two weeks later they will run specials (Seward to Anchorage, etc.). 

Currently, the Alaska Railroad is running a Seward to the airport to Anchorage to seward using a train consisting of a bi-level diner car, coaches and a GP40 at each end. 

Three leased GP38-2 units have arrived.  They are designated LLPX which is basically a locomotive leasing partnership of EMD and GATX.  They are painted in the old EMD blue demonstrator paint scheme. 

The railroad continues to install continuous welded rail (CWR).  if memory serves me correct, they have finished in Eklutna and are now working in Birchwood. 

Palmer Junction has been renamed Matanuska.  An update was issued for all rule books and time tables. 


 
 

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Page created 7/7/03 and last updated 1/1/04