2005 News Archive
(January - March)
Princess cruise lines cars - 3/24/05
From trainorders.com via John Henderson

From trainoders.com via Dave Franz in Missoula, MT: Dated March 23, 2005

Princess cruise lines cars MSEX 7082 and MSEX 7083 were dilivered to the BNSF at Denver today by the UP from Colorado Railcar at Ft Lupton, CO.

The cars are scheduled to depart tomorrow - 3-24 - on the rear of train M-DENLAU1-24.

From Harbor Island in Seattle the cars will be moved by barge to Alaska.

Rails deliver big to state economy - 3/17/05
Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska Railroad spends some $108 million annually in Alaska, supporting more than 1,900 jobs across the state, a new economic study shows.

About 800 of those jobs are directly tied to the railroad, according to the study released this week by the University of Alaska Anchorage's Institute of Social and Economic Research. The remaining 1,100 are created by the railroad spending on supplies and services from other Alaska businesses and by its employees spending the money they earn. Together, those jobs have an annual payroll of $83 million, the report said.

[See story]

Mayor hops aboard railway bandwagon - 3/17/05
White Horse Star
By Stephanie Waddell

A railway between Alaska and northern B.C. that would run through the Yukon is a lot closer to reality than many people may think, says Mayor Ernie Bourassa.

He made the comment at Monday evening’s council meeting after he was asked by other council members what came out of the Canada Gala event he attended in Anchorage last weekend.
The gala brought together government and business representatives to discuss issues concerning both sides of the border. Alaska officials are set to visit Whitehorse next week to continue discussions of the railway project.

[See story]

Locomotive status - 3/10/05
Based on an e-mail from an anonymous source

All nine of the GP49's are stored as they have been for most of the winter. One of the nine is stored unserviceable, the other eight are stored serviceable. When and how many of these will be returned to service remains unclear, awaiting business need.

All of the GP40-2's that were stored serviceable have been returned to service. There are three each GP40-2's that are stored unserviceable. They are 3002, 3004 and 3005. The railroad is awaiting parts for 3005. The railroad expects all three will be fixed by pasenger season.

There are three each GP38's stored unserviceable. 2003 is getting a rebuilt main generator today. 2001 and 2006 need overhaul and will remain stored unserviceable.

The ski train runs to Curry on Saturday and the railroad will test 4319 supplying HEP to a real live passenger train.

Number 4008 at Harbor Island - 3/8/05
From Randy Thompson, sometime ace reporter on the scene in Seattle

I was down at Harbor Island this afternoon under cloudy skies (not good for photo taking) and saw ARR Spirit of Wasilla, 4008.

It has been in Montana over the winter for repairs to the front end from an encounter with a semi-truck (I think) last summer.

There was some evidence of repairs, a new ditch light, new paint, new plow, etc, nothing too obvious to me.

It's to be loaded onto the barge tomorrow, Weds. March 9th, for the week long trip to Whittier. It took the BNSF a week to get it from Pasco, WA to Harbor Island.

Ex-ARR #1800 gets a repaint - 3/6/05
From trainorders.com via Robert Krol
Missouri Central Railroad 1800 (ex Alaska RR 1800) was sitting at the Melvin Price Warehouse in Granite City, Il. Sorry to say but it will no longer read Missouri Central after today. A crew was sanding down the gold stripe and lettering in preperation of painting the stripe "John Deere Green". The unit will retain it's dark green color on the rest of the body.
City may add 4 parking garages downtown - 3/3/05
by Jeffrey Hope

It's far from a done deal, but Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich says plans for four separate parking garages could add 1,550 new parking spaces to downtown.

Each of the garages marks a separate project, but it’s still only on paper. The first is a plan by the Alaska Railroad to build a 620-space garage (bottom photo) across from the depot, which will take two years.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad upgrades to first class with luxury cars - 2/22/05
Railroad News

Starting Jun01, passengers on the Alaska Railroad can choose to travel in first-class luxury in two new, custom-designed railcars.

Although construction on the cars isn't complete, many people have already reserved a seat.

"We knew the tickets would be popular, but they were more popular than we ever thought they would be," said Susie Kiger, marketing director for Alaska Railroad Corp. "They're selling very well."

[See story]

ARR 4008 heads home - 2/17/05
Submitted by John Henderson

From MRL's Work Messages, Feb17

ARR 4008 departed VS at 0630 on LM-16.

Headed west, into Missoula late Feb17 and onto a BNSF westbound maybe the 18th. Seattle area the 20th??

ARR passenger car bid - 2/16/05
Submitted By Robert Krol
The ARR has out for bid: two Bi-Level coaches with option for two more. Two to be delivered before May 2006 and the option if ordered May 2007.
More ARR passenger car info - 2/16/05
Submitted by an anonymous source

As for the interior work on the 551-554, that is on hold at this point. It appears that the new seats weren't ready in time, so as of now, the project is on hold till next winter. The railroad is unsure at this point if the 50's diner will be remodeled this winter either. The contractor doing the work was supposed to start the work over two months ago, but still hasn't started. This coach will be very, very nice if the work is done well.

Here is a juicy rumor for you, word is that instead of leasing two or three coaches from Montana Rockies Rail Tours for the upcoming season, the railroad is buying eight coaches for approximately $2 million. I have no more details than that. At this point I will just call this a rumor.

A view of the ARR's new passenger car - 2/15/05
Submitted by Weldon W. Williams

Last night's local news carried an item regarding the new bi-level dome cars that are coming in the spring. They mentioned an upper level viewing platform. Intrigued I went to the Colorado Railcar web site looking for any pictures or sketches. The following link has a picture at the bottom of the page.


Princess summer railroad runs - 2/14/05
Submitted by an anonymous source
Princess will run two trains out of Whittier this summer. One train will run to Talkeetna and the other will run to Denali and no train to the Airport Depot. I don't know if they will run MSE cars on both trains or not. I guess on Saturday and Mondays, the ARR will need four engines just for Princess trains.
Underground ice slab holds up railroad track work - 2/8/05
Anchorage Daily News

Engineers have discovered an unusually large slab of ice buried under a frigid black spruce forest not far from Chugiak High School.

The ice is shaped like the eye of a giant monster, 700 or 800 feet long, nearly 44 feet thick at its center, and tapered at its ends. It is buried just a few feet beneath the surface at its thickest point and about 20 feet under at one end.

[See story]

MEA looks to build new plant - 2/3/05
Anchorage Daily News

WASILLA -- Matanuska Electric Association has begun talks with Usibelli Coal Mine Inc. about building a new power plant in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough within the next 10 years to address demand for electricity in the state's fastest growing region, an MEA spokesman said Wednesday.

Both companies listed plenty of reasons why they want to make the project happen. MEA now buys its power from Chugach Electric Association, but claims it pays too much and doesn't plan to renew its contract when it expires in 2014. That means the Valley utility needs a new source of electricity.

[See story]

Financial Advisor Services - Tax Exempt Bonding - 2/1/05
Submitted By Robert Krol
The Alaska State Legislature recently authorized ARRC to issue bonds for the following purposes:

· To finance the construction of a pipeline and related facilities to transport Alaska North Slope natural gas. This authorization permits ARRC to issue up to $17 billion in nonrecourse, tax-exempt bonds to be secured by agreements with gas producers or other entities.

· To extend ARRC’s rail line to Fort Greely, Alaska. This authorization permits ARRC to issue up to $500 million in nonrecourse, tax-exempt bonds to be secured by an agreement with the federal government.
4008 status - 1/28/05
Submitted By John Henderson

Dave Franz, a locomotive engineer for Montana Rail Link writes:

"ARR 4008 arrived at Livingston last evening at 1815 Jan25 on LM-25. It was first in line behind 365-306-391. Went all the way to Laurel first, then back west."

Noise relief - 1/24/05
Anchorage Daily News

A locomotive blasting its whistle as it nears railroad crossings sounds nostalgic to some but is a rude wake-up call in the night to many. Whichever camp you're in, soon the whistles will be fading away in Anchorage neighborhoods.

The Alaska Railroad has been experimenting with two different ways to make trains travel more quietly though the city. It is already testing one method at 36th Avenue in Spenard and another at Klatt Road.

[See story]

The Denali Express - 1/24/05
Submitted By Jody Moore
New for 2005, Princess will be taking their cars off of the Denali Star for the days that their ships arrive in Whittier, and running specials from Whittier to Denali and back (called the Denali Express). Not sure how that will affect other Midnight Sun Express movements on the Star, but the Denali Express movement will be a dedicated movement, probably with an SD70MAC, from what I have been told.
Railbelt utilities may join forces - 1/23/05
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

JUNEAU--The six utilities serving the power corridor running from Homer to Fairbanks are considering joining forces in a structure that would allow them to share resources and take over state-owned facilities, including the Healy Clean Coal Project power plant.

Under the arrangement, the utilities would be considered a "joint action agency," of which there are several variations. The arrangement, which is common in Lower 48 power grids, would allow the utilities to share things like training, accounting, planning, lobbying and other efforts.

[See story]

Building Anchorage -- Alaska Railroad - 1/15/05
Anchorage Daily News

What: The Alaska Railroad's new Anchorage operations center cost around $9.5 million, with $6.5 million going to construction, the railroad said. The 23,000-square-foot, three-story building will house the dispatchers and other employees who coordinate and support operations in the Anchorage yard and along the Railbelt. An observation tower oversees the rail yard for more efficient train assembly and management.

[See story]

4008 repair - 1/14/05
Based on an email from an anonymous source
SD70MAC 4008 is in Seattle on its way to Talgo-LRC for repair.
Status of Budd dome 512 - 1/10/05
Submitted By Jody Moore
Holland America has taken Budd dome 512 off the market. The car will join the 507, 508 and 1394 in a new venture called Alaska Rail Tours beginning this coming summer. I don't have any
other details yet.
SD70MAC HEP test and derailment - 1/10/05
Submitted anonymously

I wanted to let you know that this morning [1/9/05] the Alaska Railroad ran one of the new MAC's with HEP on the Fairbanks. It is the first actual trip for one of the new MAC's powering a train. They have all passed load box tests previously. The railroad put the 3011 on with it, just in case!

The railroad also had the 4318 in the backshop today getting the gearpans replaced on motors 4,5, and 6. That was the unit that derailed at Curry earlier this week. According to the guys on the wrecking crew that went out on it, it was a real pain to get back on, due to stopping for rail traffic
coming through, and the very deep and wet snow. It was a two day job. They did have to replace the gearpans on #5, and #6 out there on site, since it had gone about a half mile sliding on the rail, and put holes in those two pans. They just derailed the rear truck on the unit.

Alaska Railroad ready to move on Ship Creek - 1/8/05
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Melissa Campbell

Pat Gamble has some big plans for the Alaska Railroad Corp. As president of the corporation, he's already seen some major changes and improvements to the organization in terms of efficiency and safety.

But he's getting a little impatient about plans for Ship Creek.

[See story]

Railroad looks at growth to Fort Greely, whistle changes - 1/6/05
Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska Railroad plans to spend more than $76 million on capital improvements this year, with three-quarters of the money coming from the federal government.

The state-owned railroad, which has roughly 500 miles of mainline track between Seward and North Pole, provides passenger and freight service.

[See story]

Coastal Trail could extend to Ship Creek - 1/5/05
Anchorage Daily News

People have talked about running the Coastal Trail down to Ship Creek for ages, but suddenly the project has taken on momentum.

The reason is that the big federal spending bill that Congress passed late last year contained $2 million for "Ship Creek improvements," which turned out to be trail money.

[See story]

Locomotive derails near Talkeetna - 1/5/05
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

A single Alaska Railroad locomotive slid off the track Tuesday morning about 22 miles north of Talkeetna.

No injuries or spills occurred, railroad spokesman Tim Thompson said, and only the locomotive's rear portion was off the rails.

The locomotive was pulling 46 empty tanker cars north to Fairbanks from Anchorage, Thompson said. The locomotive was detached from the cars in order to clear the track of snow near 248 Mile at a place called Curry on the railroad's Hurricane Turn route.

[See story]

Tax fight sends rail cars to winter in Wasilla - 1/5/05
Anchorage Daily News

Railroad cars laden with tourists peering out big scenic-view windows for glimpses of moose and Mount McKinley are a common sight during summer in Alaska.

But a few days ago, in the dead of winter, a string of McKinley Explorer passenger cars owned by cruise-ship company Holland America rolled, empty, from Anchorage north about 50 miles to the Pittman area west of Wasilla. There, on a lonely, snowy siding, the cars were disconnected from the locomotive and left.

[See story]



Page created 2/1/05 and last updated 4/1/05