2006 News Archive
More Whittier Info - 12/27/06
Submitted by Mark Earnest
I'd like to offer some additional information to Robert Krol's report and one clarification:

Whittier officially received 76.6 inches of snow for the week of December 17. In addition, prolonged high winds caused massive drifts and plugged roads within hours after being cleared. As of December 27, Whittier has received over 120 inches of snow (10 feet) already for the month of December. The forecast for the remainder of the month is snow, heavy at times, and some rain.

It took me two hours to dig my vehicle out of the snow by the Begich Towers on December 20, but that was after only 46 inches in 48 hours.

The City grader did get stuck, but it was not abandoned. City crews had to get two pieces of heavy equipment to extract the grader from the drift. It took two hours to accomplish that Herculean task! Drifts of six-feet high or more are common throughout town.
Merry Christmas from buried Whittier - 12/26/06
Submitted by Robert Krol

Merry Christmas from buried Whittier. We came into Whittier last night [12/24]. The crossing at Portage was covered with about 2-3 feet of snow. The tracks at Bear Valley are buried under a snow drift 4-5 feet deep. The drift outside the tunnel at Whittier is about 2 feet deep. There's 2 engines crusted in ice at the Barge Slip. The Snow Fleet is in Whittier. I can't tell if there's a plow on each end or not. The road in Whittier is impassable now, the City got their grader stuck in a snow drift. A loader came over and tried to pull him out, but it didn't work. They gave up and left.

I'll try and get you some pics.

[12/26 update] I went out and got pics. I'll have to download and send them over to you tomorrow evening, if we make it out. The snowfleet looks like it has been here a few days. The Snowfleet Consist is:

Spreader 7 on the Northend
Spreader 9 on the Southend.

There's a drift about 6-7 feet high they will have to bust through to get out of Whittier. The 2002 and 2005 are iced and snowed in on the Barge Slip Track waiting for duty.

Transportation department, railroad agree to split grant - 12/26/06
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Chris Eshleman

State transportation planners and the Alaska Railroad Corp. have reached a deal that would split a federal grant between a pair of projects: resurfacing Phillips Field Road and upgrading the railroad’s Fairbanks yard.

[See story]

ARR to purchase DMU - 12/22/06

From an ARRC RFP, "The objective of this RFP is to solicit offers from qualified manufacturers to produce one (1) each bi-level DMU passenger car with a purchase option for an additional car per the terms, conditions, and specifications of this solicitation and deliver the finished coach to the specified delivery point on or before May 31, 2008. The future optional (1) DMU car would have a delivery date TBD.


Railroad will clean boats and cars fouled when oil spewed from engine - 12/19/06
Anchorage Daily News

WHITTIER -- The Alaska Railroad is contacting dozens of boat and automobile owners in Whittier with an offer to clean their vehicles after an engine spewed oily soot on them last month, officials said.

The incident happened Nov. 22, during an extended cold snap in Southcentral Alaska. Railroad spokesman Tim Thompson said the engine had been idling to stay warm, and lubricating oil accumulated in its smokestack.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad puts the torch to old oil diesel spill near Bird Point - 12/19/06
Anchorage Daily News

BIRD POINT -- The Alaska Railroad burned a few hundred gallons of fuel Saturday in marshland near Bird Point, sending smoke that was visible from the Seward Highway north of Girdwood into the sky.

The diesel fuel was left over from a spill in early December caused when a locomotive collided with a boulder on the track, piercing its fuel tank, said Tim Thompson, Alaska Railroad spokesman.

[See story]

GP49s sold - 12/15/06
From various sources
GP49 numbers 2801, 2803, 2804, 2806, 2807 were sold to Helm Leasing. "Locomotives 2803, 2806, and 2807 are being sold FOB ARRC’s barge slip in Seattle, Washington. As a condition of sale, these units must be waybilled to an off line destination by buyer before they leave ARRC’s Yard in Anchorage, Alaska for transport to Seattle unless other terms have been mutually agreed upon by the parties. Locomotives 2801 and 2804 are being sold FOB National Railway Equipment’s facility in Dixmoor, Illinois. These locomotives must be removed from National Railway Equipment’s facility within 30 days of consummation of sale unless other terms have been mutually agreed upon by the buyer and National Railway."
Rail spur project fueled by coal ambitions - 12/13/06
Anchorage Daily News

WASILLA -- The last time the Alaska Railroad Corp. built a spur was 1942, World War II was under way, and the nation needed a way to get supplies to and from the deep-water port at Whittier.

Now the possibility that Healy coal could power Agrium Corp.'s Nikiski fertilizer plant has re-energized talk of building a $200 million rail spur from Willow to Port MacKenzie.

[See story]

Railroad removes contaminated soil - 12/12/06
The Associated Press

The Alaska Railroad plans to move contaminated railroad ballast to Fairbanks for thermal processing as part of its cleanup of a spill last week. An estimated 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel spilled onto tracks December 3rd when a locomotive hit a rock north of Girdwood. The rock gashed a hole in the fuel tank of the lead locomotive near Bird Point and the train came to a stop about a half-mile away.

[See story]

Locomotive hits rock, spills fuel on Alaska Railroad tracks - 12/5/06
Kenai Peninsula Online
The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Up to 1,200 gallons of fuel spilled onto Alaska Railroad tracks when a locomotive hit a rock.

The locomotive, part of a 46-car freight train, hit a rock on tracks at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday north of Girdwood.

The rock gashed a four-inch hole in the fuel tank of the lead locomotive, said railroad spokesman Tim Thompson, at Mile 80.5 near Bird Point. The train stopped at Mile 90 and fuel spilled on tracks as the train slowed for the half mile, Thompson said.

[See story]

Alaska Railroad accident - 12/5/06
By Ali Reed

A train accident Sunday along the Seward Highway has led to a big cleanup effort Monday. Railroad officials estimate about 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel were spilled. CBS 11 News was down on the tracks on Monday. You could see what looked like diesel fuel on the tracks. It was noticeable to both the eyes and nose.

"As you can tell, there is a smell of diesel fuel in the air," said spokesperson for the Alaska Railroad, Tim Thompson.

[See story]

Train Strikes Rock Causing Locomotive Fuel Tank Leak - 12/4/06
Alaska Railroad Corporation
News Release

ANCHORAGE, Alaska-At approximately 2:30 PM Sunday, an Alaska Railroad (ARRC)
freight train struck a large rock north of Girdwood along Turnagain Arm causing damage to
a locomotive fuel tank. The strike created a four-inch gash in the lead locomotives' fuel tank
causing diesel fuel to leak directly onto the railbed.

At this time, there is no threat to the waters of Turnagain Arm. It is unknown how much
fuel has spilled but crews estimate around 1200 gallons. ARRC environmental and safety
crews are on scene and beginning cleanup response. Nearly 100 gallons of diesel fuel has
been recovered and protective boom was placed around the locomotive.

The freight train struck the rock near ARRC milepost 80.5 (near Bird Point) and stopped
near ARRC milepost 81. ARRC environmental crews will continue assessment and cleanup
work. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has been notified and is

Railroad diesel spill misses Turnagain Arm - 12/4/06
Anchorage Daily News

More than a thousand gallons of fuel spilled on the railroad tracks near the Seward Highway near Bird Point on Sunday after an Alaska Railroad freight train hit a 75-pound rock that tore open a fuel tank.

Diesel spilled directly on the rail bed and did not threaten Turnagain Arm, said railroad spokesman Tim Thompson.

[See story]

The Denali business car returns! - 12/1/06
Submitted by an anonymous source

The Denali business car came off the barge, touching home turf again, 11-30-06 at 8:22pm.

Anchorage port could move coal for Agrium switch - 11/28/06
Alaska Journal of Commerce
By Tim Bradner

Agrium Corp.’s plan to switch its Nikiski fertilizer plant from running on natural gas to coal would initially rely on coal shipped from the Usibelli coal mine at Healy to Anchorage and transferred to barges at the Port of Anchorage.....

Steve Denton, Usibelli’s vice president for business development, said his company is also looking at Port MacKenzie, across Knik Arm, as a place to load barges bound for Nikiski. Port MacKenzie now has facilities for loading bulk commodities. However, to make shipping from the port feasible, a 43-mile rail link would be needed to connect the port with the Alaska Railroad, he said. Costs of a rail spur have been estimated at about $200 million.

[See story]

Congressional bill includes Fort Wainwright provisions - 11/26/06
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Sam Bishop

WASHINGTON — The Army may soon get the money to build a four-pronged railroad spur on Fort Wainwright that would make loading Stryker Brigade vehicles onto railroad flatcars three times faster.

The $8.8 million is in the annual military construction spending bill approved by the U.S. Senate Nov. 14. Since that bill hasn’t yet been reconciled with a House version, the earmark’s fate may lie with the next Congress when it returns in January.

[See story]

The Denali business car to return - 11/9/06
Submitted by an anonymous source

The Denali business car left Ft. Lupton on Wednesday, November 8.

School children take the Sea Train - 10/30/06
Anchorage Daily News

SEWARD -- The Sea Train unleashed a bundle of energy this month when all 3,600 Anchorage fifth-graders rode the Alaska Railroad here as a new part of their energy-science curriculum.

[See story]

Latest SD70MAC order - 10/26/06
Submitted by an anonymous source
The four unit Alaska railroad order has a start date of around April 2007. As far as I can tell they will be SD70MACs. GM EMD still makes the older style locomotives. They should be the same as the last ones (Tier 1). I remember reading somewhere that the Government imposed emission levels don’t apply to Alaska. Since there is no "H" in the designation ( SD70MAC-T1 ) that would lead me to believe that they do not have Head End Power. I really didn’t understand their logic last time in designing a unit where you take the power from the back set of motors and send it to the passenger cars. Most HEP equipped units have a separate 8 cylinder diesel engine that supplies the power, using the power from the back truck would halve the horsepower and pulling power of the locomotive. I would imagine that Alaska Railroad just decided to stick with a power car behind the lead unit with a motor and generator in it.
GP49s are on the chopping block - 10/17/06
Submitted by Robert Krol

Looks like the GP49s are on the chopping block:

Used Locomotive Sale Five (5) Each GP-49 and Miscellaneous Spare Parts ITB ARRC 06-001

Shipping/Removal: Locomotives 2803, 2806, and 2807 are being sold FOB ARRC’s barge slip in Seattle, Washington. As a condition of sale, these units must be waybilled to an off line destination by buyer before they leave ARRC’s Yard in Anchorage, Alaska for transport to Seattle unless other terms have been mutually agreed upon by the parties. Locomotives 2801 and 2804 are being sold FOB National Railway Equipment’s facility in Dixmoor, Illinois. These locomotives must be removed from National Railway Equipment’s facility within 30 days of consummation of sale unless other terms have been mutually agreed upon by the buyer and National Railway. The spare parts are being sold FOB ARRC’s Yard in Anchorage, Alaska. These items must be removed from ARRC’s property within 30 days of consummation of sale unless other terms have been mutually agreed.

Alaska Railroad offers transportation for AFN delegates - 10/13/06
by Tracy Holenport

Anchorage. Alaska - If you're planning to attend this month's Alaska Federation of Natives Conference in Anchorage, the Alaska Railroad has a deal.

The railroad is offering free inter-city transit between Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and the downtown railroad depot during the conference. The AFN Express will be available to delegates, their families and the general public.

[See story]

Artrain rolls into Fairbanks - 10/6/06
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
By Jeff Richardson

Fairbanks has hosted traveling art exhibits before, but never anything like Artrain.

The collection of contemporary Native artwork doesn’t just travel around the country, it brings its own museum along for the ride. The road show includes five rail cars, which have spent the past 35 years chugging across America. More than 3 million people have checked out Artrain USA since it was launched in Michigan in 1971.

[See story]

Alaska military operations to receive millions in defense bill - 10/1/06
Anchorage Daily News
The Associated Press

Work on rerouting the Alaska Railroad track through Fort Wainwright will begin with $12 million and the Port of Anchorage will also receive $10 million.

[See story]



Page created 11/9/06 and last updated 12/31/06