2006 News Archive
(April - June)
Railroad delays decision on lease for Seward power plant - 6/23/06
Associated Press

The Alaska Railroad board says it will wait to make a decision to lease property in Seward to an Anchorage developer who wants to build a coal-fired power plant.

Marc Marlow wants to lease five acres and build a 20-megawatt plant. Marlow says he can build a plant that's equipped to burn more cleanly than natural gas using low-sulfur coal from Usibelli Coal Mine in Healy.

[See story]

Raising an issue at Al's Alaska Inn - 6/19/06
Anchorage Daily News

There's a double-decker Alaska Railroad car sitting crosswise in a parking lot on the old Seward Highway far from any train tracks. The owner of Al's Alaskan Inn, an old tavern, says he plans to hoist it to the building's second story to expand his already sprawling bar.

At first, the city said go ahead. Now they're saying not so fast.

[See story]

Wildfire near Nenana Suspends Train Traffic - 6/15/06
Passengers to continue to Fairbanks by bus
Alaska Railroad Corporation News Release

DATE: June 9, 2006 CONTACT: Tim Thompson, 265-2695

ANCHORAGE, Alaska –The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) suspended train traffic this
afternoon due to the Tamarack Fire that is burning south of Nenana. A portion of the wildfire
jumped the tracks near MP 406 and is burning on both sides.

Passengers traveling northbound will be off-loaded at the Denali Depot and continue to Fairbanks
by bus. Over 700 passengers will be transported.

It is unknown the extent of damage, if any, to the tracks. ARRC officials will inspect the area before train traffic resumes.

The ARRC is sending two bulldozers, two water trucks and a railgrinder with a 20,000-gallon water tank and two water cannons to assist fire officials combating the wildfire.

Depending on fire conditions, the Alaska Railroad expects full-passenger service to resume between Anchorage and Fairbanks by tomorrow.

Weeds menace railroad - 6/15/06
Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska Railroad is reopening an old and contentious debate with a plan to use herbicides to kill weeds, brush and other plant growth in and alongside its tracks.

In an application filed with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the railroad proposes using two commonly available weed killers called glyphosate and 2,4-D and a Dupont Chemical product called Oust Extra, which can only be used by professionals. The substances would be sprayed straight down from a rail-mounted vehicle for up to 15 feet on either side of the center of the tracks.

[See story]

Railroad wants to clear tracks with herbicide - 6/15/06
by Sean Doogan

The Alaska Railroad says it can’t keep weeds, bushes and other plants from growing in its tracks. Now a plan to spray chemical herbicides on more than 600 miles of track is drawing criticism from local environmental groups.
The Alaska Railroad manages more than 600 miles of track. Beneath the rock and wood that makes up the rail bed lurks a silent danger. Weeds, bushes and plants spread their roots in the ballast rock, loosening the rail bed and making for a less than stable ride. The railroad says it can’t keep up.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad Applies for Weed Control Permit - 6/15/06
Alaska Railroad Corporation News Release

Alaska Railroad Corporation News Release
DATE: June 14, 2006 CONTACT: Tim Thompson, 907-265-2695

Alaska Railroad Applies for Weed Control Permit

ANCHORAGE, Alaska-The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) has applied for an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) permit to use chemical weed control on railroad operating lands, primarily the right-of-way, as part of an annual integrated vegetation management program.

Since 1983 the Alaska Railroad has repeatedly tried to control vegetation along its 600-miles of track with nonchemical methods including mechanical brush-cutting, manual labor, steam and burning. These alternative methods have not proved adequate because mechanical cutting does not address the problem with vegetation between the rails, to the ends of the ties, and especially root growth down within the rail bed itself.

“This is purely about safety for our employees, customers and residents along the railbelt,” said ARRC President and CEO, Pat Gamble, “and right now we are fighting a losing battle but have it within our power to remedy this huge problem in an environmentally compatible way. Considering our railroad carries half a million people and half of our freight carloads are hazardous material, we are compelled to address these deficiencies.”

Because of vegetation growth and resulting track conditions, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the regulatory body that governs safety for the rail industry, has repeatedly fined the ARRC. The FRA has directed the ARRC to enhance its vegetation management program to address problems with the roadbed.

With safety as the dominant factor, a permit will allow the ARRC to:
• Comply with federal regulatory requirements to control vegetation on and within the rail bed
• Reduce the risk of derailment
• Help employees to avoid slip, trip and fall injuries
• Eliminate plants and roots that de-stabilize the track sub surface
• Remove brush that can fuel wild fires
• Maintain safe visual site lines at road/rail crossings

In addition to safety, a permit will also assist efforts to control the spread of noxious, invasive weeds propagating along the railbelt into South Central Alaska.

More information on the ARRC’s vegetation management program can be found at www.alaskarailroad.com.

ARRC is a self-sustaining, state-owned Corporation that operates without state subsidy, serving a number of rail belt communities from Seward to Fairbanks.

Bear Valley gets a new bridge - 6/1/06
Submitted by an anonymous source

Br F5.7 in Bear Valley will be steel piers and girders with a concrete ballast deck by next Spring. [Webmaster's note: You may want to take a trip to Bear Valley soon and take a photo or two of this historic bridge before it is replaced!]

One person's scenic rail car is another's mountain-blocking eyesore - 5/22/06
Anchorage Daily News

Allen Choy looks at the Alaska Railroad passenger car in the parking lot at Al's Alaskan Inn and sees the future.

He sees expansion for his ever growing bar, he sees a tourist attraction for South Anchorage, and he sees a connection with his beloved father, who once bought an old control tower from the Anchorage airport with the idea of turning it into a bar.

[See story]

New railroad tracks put project at a tough crossroad - 5/13/06
Alaska Journal of Commerce

The Alaska Railroad is moving dirt this year, in the first noticeable work to build a new facility that aims to prepare the railroad depot facilities to accommodate future growth.

Utility and track work will start this summer in the first steps of a multi-phase, multi-million dollar project called the Ship Creek Intermodal Transportation Center.

[See story]

DTC now active on ARR - 5/10/06
submitted via an anonymous source

Direct Traffic Control (DTC) System of traffic control with fixed blocks, where block occupancy is granted remotely by a dispatcher. Ordinarily, only one train may occupy a DTC block at a time. Similar to TWC except that the blocks are fixed by timetable rather than granted case by case. DTC may be used in conjunction with track signalling in APB, ABS, or over dark territory. Distant Signal A fixed signal outside of a block system, used to govern the approach to a block signal, interlocking signal or switch point indicator. It will not convey information as to conditions affecting the use of the track between the distant signal and block signal, interlocking signal or switch point indicator to which approach is governed. It will be identified by a "D" marker.

Budget draft includes bridge funds - 4/26/06
Anchorage Daily News

The state Senate Finance Committee has laid out a capital budget that proposes spending about $2 billion on projects next year, paring about $200 million from the spending plan sought by Gov. Frank Murkowski.

Among other cuts, the committee removed the $50 million that Murkowski wanted to study an Alaska-Canada railroad link. But the list of projects and total funding is likely to change in the coming days as lawmakers divvy money for pet projects.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad exhibit a less-than-exciting history lesson - 4/26/06
Anchorage Daily News

The Anchorage Museum of History and Art has teamed with the Alaska Railroad and the Museum of Alaska Transportation and History to present an exhibition of photographs that review the construction and operation of the railroad.

[See story]

New railroad facility would alter driving patterns to shop, restaurant - 4/24/06
Anchorage Daily News

The Alaska Railroad, at the start of a $60 million project to build a new departure lounge and some other facilities, has hit a snag that could hurt some of the Ship Creek district's new and expanding businesses.

The railroad plans to build a modern station adjacent to the existing depot on First Avenue. One set of tracks runs by the depot now, but there would be five sets of tracks under the new building.

[See story]

ARR 555 & 556 loaded onto barge in Seattle - 4/20/06
by Randy Thompson

Dateline: Wednesday, April 19, 2006, Seattle waterfront.

I witnessed the two new single level Alaska RR dome cars, road number 555 (triple nickel) and 556 being loaded onto the barge in Seattle.

Also on board, three refurbished Princess dome cars.

Ship Creek road closure could hurt local businesses - 4/20/06
by Sean Doogan

For years everyone from the state to the city to the railroad has been trying to revitalize one of Anchorage’s oldest areas: Ship Creek. Now area business owners say those plans for revitalization could hurt their bottom line by ending direct access to the rail yard from north C Street.
The fears come from the possible closure of about 150 yards of roadway. The Alaska Railroad says it may be necessary to ensure safe passage for increased rail traffic, but area business owners say the closure could re-route their business somewhere else.

[See story]

Alaska RR Dome Lounges 555 & 556 - 4/14/06
From trainorders.com
By cozephyr via Art Chase

Colorado Railcar, Fort Lupton, CO, released two Alaska Railroad dome lounges, ARR 555 & 556, April 12, 2006. UP moved the luxurious domed lounges with 4-top seating for up to 76 passengers to Denver, CO. The cars feature a standup service bar.

Check out more at...


UP GP40-2 1348 and LLPX 2225 were the power. Train met UP 4455 North at Hazeltine Siding, CO, north of Rolla, CO.

Emergency preparedness on Alaska Railroad - 4/14/06
Anchorage Daily News

What would happen if a train pulling tanker cars loaded with gasoline derailed in Wasilla? What if it weren't gasoline but natural gas? What if the train were in Talkeetna at a time when rains were swelling the rivers and flooding the town?

The Alaska Railroad Corp. and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough ran a series of workshops with a train last week to answer those questions.

[See story]

Alaska train safety tour held in Fairbanks - 4/14/06
Associated Press

Alaska railroad officials put on a train safety show for Fairbanks firefighters and university employees this week.

Officials demonstrated the fundamentals of train safety in the event of a crisis. Fairbanks is the eighth stop of a nine-stop tour around the state.

The project began in Seward earlier this month and ends in Anchorage next week.

Emergency preparedness on Alaska Railroad - 4/7/06
by Michele White

The Alaska Railroad is bringing an emergency preparedness class on rail cars to nine communities along the Railbelt. It’s called the Whistle Stop Tour.
In 1923, the Alaska Railroad was a catalyst for communication between communities along the Railbelt. Today the Alaska Railroad is continuing on that track by bringing information about emergency and health preparedness to stops from Seward to Fairbanks aboard the Whistle Stop Tour.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad Corporation Releases 2005 Annual Report - 4/3/06
Submitted by Tim Thompson, Public Affairs Officer

The Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) released its 2005 Annual Report today posting earnings of $12.7 million on total revenues of $144.0 million.

"The Alaska Railroad had another solid year in 2005," said Governor Bill Sheffield, the new Chairman of the Alaska Railroad Board. "The Board has worked diligently to provide direction and build on the continuing success of this enterprise. Our work as a board will continue to support management's efforts to enhance Alaska's economic growth."

This year's report highlights consisted of the best ever safety records for the Railroad, historical gravel movement, and Passenger revenues that well surpassed projected budgets. In addition, 2005 saw the opening of the Fairbanks Intermodal Depot and Facility, the Anchorage Operations Center, the introduction of first class GoldStar Service, and a continued Capital Projects campaign totaling nearly $80 million.

"In 2005, we made a concerted effort to position ourselves for future growth by investing in new technology, new equipment and improved infrastructure all of which enhance our safety, capacity, and customer service," Pat Gamble, ARRC President and CEO said. "These investments better prepare the Railroad for the transportation challenges that appear on Alaska's horizon."

The Alaska Railroad Corporation is a self-sustaining, state-owned corporation that operates without state subsidy. The Railroad generates revenue through year-round passenger and freight service to a number of communities from Seward to Fairbanks and through its management of Real Estate holdings along the railbelt.

An electronic copy of the annual report is available on the ARRC web site at:




Page created 5/1/06 and last updated 7/1/06