2005 News Archive
Curry rebirth? - 12/29/05
Submitted by an anonymous source
FYI, they're amending the Denali State Park Master and recommending rebuilding the suspension bridge, stabilizing the Curry lookout, and reestablishing the trail that connects the two. The plan also recommends resurrecting the Curry train stop, albeit not as luxurious as the late 50's. For more information, see chapter 8, page 49. Also see figure 16 in Chapter 8:

Budget calls for railroad link analysis - 12/23/05
Anchorage Dail News

The governor wants to spend tens of millions of dollars in seed money for jumbo transportation projects -- including a railroad to Canada -- that have been Alaska dreams for decades.

Gov. Frank Murkowski proposes spending $50 million in state general funds to study the possibility of extending Alaska railroad track about 1,100 miles to connect with the Canadian railway system. It calls for $45 million to make progress on a road out of Juneau expected to cost more than five times that much if built.

[See story]

Carlile meets growing demand with Tacoma facility - 12/20/05
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Rob Stapleton

As West Coast ports expand due to ever-increasing demand with Asia, Carlile Transportation Systems Inc. is positioning itself with a new $6 million facility at the Port of Tacoma in Washington state.

"This has been a very good year for us," said Carlile president Harry McDonald.....

.....The new facility is U.S. Customs-bonded, and has a chill and freeze holding area, as well as a rail spur for loading and unloading rail boxcars or flatbeds.

[See story]

Binkley joins GOP race - 12/20/05
Anchorage Dail News

Fairbanks businessman and former state Sen. John Binkley announced Monday that he is running for governor.

Binkley will face former Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin in the Republican primary in August. The rest of the field is up in the air.....

.....He lives in Fairbanks now and heads his family's Riverboat Discovery and El Dorado Gold Mine tourism business. Binkley has been chairman of the board of the Alaska Railroad Corp. since 1997. He was the Alaska finance chairman for George W. Bush's 2004 presidential campaign.

[See story]

Christmas train - 12/17/05
Anchorage Dail News
Conductor Darren Rupe stands watch as the Colony Christmas train pulls into the Palmer depot.
Air Marshals to Guard Trains, Ferries - 12/14/05

Federal air marshals will expand their work beyond airplanes, launching counterterror surveillance at train stations and other mass-transit facilities in a test program this week, according to internal federal documents.

Teams of undercover air marshals and uniformed law enforcement officers will fan out to bus and train stations, ferries and mass-transit facilities across the country to "counter potential criminal terrorist activity in all modes of transportation," according to documents from the Transportation Security Administration.

[See story]

Northern rail extension update - 12/12/05
Submitted by an anonymous source

I attended the "Northern Rail extension from North Pole to Delta" information meeting last night where I picked up all of the handouts available. The main highlight of this current stage of the project is for the public to comment on things they want in the environmental impact statement, if they are for the project, if they are against the project etc. It was set up where the involved parties sat at tables around the room with handouts and you could talk with any of them about the various details and goings on.

The project also has it’s own webpage as well: http://www.northernrailextension.com/

Moose struck by trains to become food for needy - 11/26/05
Anchorage Daily News

Prisoners from the Point MacKenzie Correctional Farm will butcher moose knocked down by Alaska Railroad trains -- then provide the frozen packages of the low-fat ground meat to the Food Bank of Alaska to feed the needy.

[See story]

Refinery expansion plans scrapped - 11/24/05
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Flint Hills Resources Alaska has scrapped plans for a $200 million expansion to produce low-sulfur diesel fuel in North Pole.

The expansion would have meant a huge construction project employing about 400 workers. Instead, Flint Hills will contribute $15 million toward a $45 million sulfur-stripping facility at Tesoro Corp.'s Kenai refinery.

[See story]

Scrap passenger cars - 11/17/05
Submitted by Stewart Sterling
I go by Alaska Metals Recycling [frequently]….. Anyways today I noticed three Alaska Railroad passenger cars sitting on their property when I was making a delivery to them. They were not there last Friday. I asked the guy what they were doing with them and if they were going to dismantle and scrap them. He said that they were going to try to sell them first and if no one was interested in them then they would cut them up and scrap them. He said they might keep them a month or so before cutting them up.

One is Alaska Railroad #600 in blue paint with gold stripes; it is the double decked type car. Looks kinda nice to be scrapping

The other two are stainless ribbed style cars in silver with the red/white/blue window stripe. The guy said they are both diner cars with all the kitchen equipment and tables and counters still in place. They were harder to see but I think one number was #321 and the other MIGHT be #322. These two looked like they had not been cleaned in a long time. There was extra lettering on them but could not see from the distance what it was and didn’t have time to investigate.
Kenai fertilizer plant looks to coal to keep operating - 11/17/05
Anchorage Daily News


Switching from gas would require about 4 million tons of coal a year, which could be moved by rail and barge from the Usibelli coal mine in Healy or by barge from the Beluga coal field west of Anchorage, Boycott said.

[See story]

ARR's new passenger cars status - 11/13/05
Submitted from an anonymous source
Colorado Railcar Manufacturing has construction underway for the Alaska Railroad's new single level domes. Their numbers are 555 and 556 and should be delivered in April 2006.The cars will have a center bar, galley at one end and restrooms at the other. They have changed from their original specification of 89 feet, 76-80 seating capacity. They will now be 85 feet long and seat 68.
One dead, 20 injured in Seward Highway accidents - 11/12/05
Anchorage Daily News

Here is an excerpt from the story:

Chiang-McCasland was driving about 55 mph in the far right lane of the four-lane straight stretch of road when she lost control, skated across the lanes, and veered off the highway. The Chevy bounced over the Alaska Railroad tracks, flipped, and landed in the snow topped waters of Turnagain Arm, troopers and a witness said.

An hour after the accident, only the pickup's roof was visible. A tow truck was preparing to pull it out of the water. Because the pickup rolled over the railroad tracks, Alaska Railroad authorities stopped all trains until the tracks could be inspected for damage, said Dana Massey, contract security officer with the railroad.

[See story]

Rails to smooth work at port - 11/1/05
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Rob Stapleton

The finishing touches are being put on a new $12.5 million road and rail project at the Port of Anchorage this month. The new rails will allow for quicker transfer of materials at the port.

Built to the east of the Port of Anchorage, which required new landscaping and decontamination of soil, a side-by-side rail from the port access road that connects with the port's other rail access is now complete.

[See story]

Dearly departed still carouse in some of city's popular haunts - 10/29/05
Anchorage Daily News
Thanks to Robert Krol for his "heads up" on this one

Near the bottom of the story:

Some staff members at the old Alaska Railroad Train Depot won't even visit its creepy basement. They've seen strange things upstairs too.

" In the ticket window, in front of a large number of people checking in, we had one of those staple removers go flying by," said Jennifer Trainor, a passenger agent.

Another time, said technician Amber Dyson, "A roll of paper towels flew off and hit Charlene in the head, and there was no one over there. It just happened on its own."

[See story]

Rebuild units in Galesburg- 10/24/05
Submitted via Robert Garner
Numbers 2801-2006-2804 were still at Galesburg for a few days this week. [See also Bill Miller's photo taken on 10/19/05]
McKinley Explorer railcars spotted - 10/24/05
Submitted by Curtis Vogt
At 1530 11 October 2005 here in Colorado, the three Explorer cars are sitting at a siding on a BNSF mixed freight train awaiting another train to pass. They are all together at the end of the train. HALX 56, 50, and 507. They will probably head towards Denver and the BNSF yards there before heading South to the Royal Gorge Railway folks.
Units arrive for rebuild - 10/19/05
Submitted by Ken Lanovich
ARR GP38-2 2001, GP40-'s 3002, 3004, and 3005 have arrived at NRE Dixmoor for various repairs. No sign of the other three as of this date.
More Princess cars spotted - 10/15/05
Submitted by an anonymous source
The other three MSEX cars - 7084, 7086 and 7088 were spotted on Harbor Island a couple of days ago. I don't know if they have left yet, but they're here. FYI, since it was referenced on your site.
Princess cars spotted - 10/14/05
From the MRL list at Trainorders.com

The Front Range line had a mixed train come south October 11, 2005. BNSF's Laurel, MT, to Denver train had eight passenger cars on the rear; Princess Ultradomes (built by Colorado Railcar, Fort Lupton, CO) MSEX 7089, 7085 and 7087. The rear five cars were for BNSF directors; sleeper MARIAS PASS, crew sleeper STEVENS PASS, TRINCHERE PASS, MOUNTAIN VIEW with PowerBar herald and business car RED RIVER BNSF 3.

[Webmaster's note: MSEX 7084, 7086, 7088 will be sent out for refurb to the lower 48 soon.]

Senate approves billions for military - 10/9/05
by Natasha Rasheed

Alaska U.S. Senator Ted Stevens is applauding Saturday's approval by the Senate of the $445 billion military spending bill. It includes a 3.1 percent across-the-board pay raise for military personnel. Stevens says the bill ensures service men and women and their families are taken care of in time of war. The bill includes funding to continue enhancements in support of Army deployments at the Port of Anchorage and funds to purchase locomotives and rail cars to transport Stryker vehicles.

[See story]

Consist changes - 10/8/05
By Virginia Gray

There have been some changes to the consist of the Grandview train. The consist is now 551, 552, 352, 553, and 554. If we're expecting larger than usual numbers, we'll put on an extra car (usually one of our 200 series coaches). There is no giftshop on board the Grandview. There isn't enough gift shop staff to put one on the Grandview, and since that is a unionized position, tour guides can't run it. The Tiki car is now used on the Coastal classic as the Bistro car. To my knowledge, the 50's diner is just used on special train consists now. In 2003 it was the Bistro car on the coastal, but this year we had the Tiki. When we run the Christmas Holiday train, I believe the entire Florida Fun consist is used, as well as a 78-seater and a dome so the conductor has an office. It's crazy...but it seems our consist is totally different every season! lol.

Also, Kenai Fjords no longer has a contract with us, so the Wildlife Express car has been repainted w/ the ARR scheme and is used for our passengers. The car still runs on the Coastal Classic.

I believe it was just started this summer, but on select days of the week, all the Princess cars are taken off the Denali Star to be used on the Princess Express (It may be called something different). It's a train made up entirely of ARR locomotives and Princess Dome Cars, and it ran between Denali Park and the cruise ships in Whittier. Every Saturday, the NB Denali Star would be put in the hole at Chase to wait for the SB Princess to pass by.

Speaking of Princess, Holland America and Princess are now the same company. One bought the other (this year, I believe) If I remember correctly, Holland bought Princess, but it could very likely be the other way around.

Addition by Robert Krol: "Carninval bought out Princess. Carnival also owns Holland America / Grayline and Princess. Princess Rail took over all the maintenance on all the railcars last year, I believe."

'Yard Goat' gets a makeover - 10/7/05
By Pat Durand, special to ARRC employee's newsletter All Aboard

A volunteer work crew from the Museum of Alaska Fransportation & Industry, Inc. (MATI) put the shine on the historic Alaska Railroad Engine No. 1 in June 2005.

No. 1 got a full cleaning, from the ground up, starting with a thorough pressure wash of the stone pedestal and concrete steps. New pilot beams were installed, along with the smoke box braces, on the front.

The Davenport Locomotive aka "Dave" was then cleaned, repainted as needed and waxed. The old canvas sun shades provided the pattern for new ones that the crew installed.

The MATI rail crew comprised of Richard and Gail Clinch, Ed Kovich and Pat Durand have adopted No. 1 and plan to have "Dave" in top shape by 2007. By then, the little locomotive that did, will be 100 years old! Talk about seniority! The locomotive first went to work for the Alaska Railroad in 1917 (See History below).

In 1948, "Dave" finished its active career in passenger service by pulling a train up and down 5th Avenue during that year's Anchorage Fur Rendezvous celebration. Track was laid down 5th Avenue from C Street to L Street. Honorary No. 1 operated back and forth on 5th Avenue, giving free rides to school-aged children. What a hoot! (or shall we say, toot-toot!?!)

History of ARRC Locomotive No. 1

Davenport Locomotive Co. builders #763 was out shopped in October, 1907, as a 3-foot gauge 0-4-0T. Delivered new to the Panama Canal Commission, she worked there as No. 802.

The Alaska Engineering Commission received surplus locomotives and equipment from Panama in 1917. On arrival, No. 802 she was rostered as No. 6 and worked the narrow gauge construction sites during the building of the Alaska Railroad.

In 1930, No. 6 received new standard gauge wheels and became a "Yard Goat" in Anchorage, moving larger steam locomotives and cars around the servicing facilities. With arrival of diesels, No. 6 was placed in retirement storage.

When the new streamliner service AuRoRa was inaugurated in October 1947, No. 6 was refurbished and came out of the shops as honorary #1. "She" operated next to the new diesel locomotive No. 1050 during the ceremony at the Anchorage Depot.

A new monument commemorating the Completion of The Alaska Railroad Rehabilitation Program was unveiled in Anchorage on November 17, 1952. Davenport Locomotive #763 was unveiled as Alaska Railroad No. 1, seated on a new pedestal in front of the Alaska Railroad Depot. Today, No. 1 still occupies this position of honor.

Alaska Railroad to build new facility in Cantwell - 10/6/05

According to the Associated Press, Alaska Railroad plans to build a new facility in Cantwell. A new building would mean that Alaska Railroad workers won't have to start heavy equipment outside during winter's deep cold anymore.

[See story]

Papa Pilgrim arrested - 10/6/05
Anchorage Daily News

Robert Hale, the McCarthy-area patriarch known as Papa Pilgrim, was taken into custody in Eagle River around 1 p.m. Wednesday after a manhunt of nearly two weeks, Alaska State Troopers said. He was wanted on charges of raping and assaulting one of his daughters.

An Alaska Railroad special agent spotted Hale, 64 and once the leader of a 17-member family living on an old mining site near McCarthy, driving on a road that dead-ends at railroad property. The agent recognized him and arrested him.

[See story]

Students get inside look at Alaska Railroad - 10/1/05
by Yvonne Ramsay

It's all aboard for a lesson in railroad safety and the history of the Alaska Railroad. Today students from Lake Hood Elementary School toured train cars and many students took their first ride on a train.

It’s just before 10 a.m. when a select group of students from Lake Hood Elementary School make their way to the train depot. Today these second grade students got the chance to learn more about the history of the Alaska Railroad.

[See story]



Page created 11/1/05 and last updated 1/1/06