Question: What is the rail weight along the Alaska Railroad?
just called the railroad heavy equipment man who has been traveling with
track gangs for the past three seasons and asked what size rail they are
laying now. All "New" construction is to be 141 Lbs to the Yard.
Most everywhere you see concrete ties will be 141. North of Curry there
are some concrete
ties with 115 Lbs to the Yard remanufactured rail but not much. (It takes
different ties and fasteners to do the two sizes.) There is some 90 Lbs
the Yard used on sidings, stub and Yard tracks but not much. He believes
all the 75 Lb rail is now gone. (Pat Durand) 6/27/09
Question: Does the Alaska Railroad heat their fuel tanks?
Answer: EMD engines by their nature heat their fuel tanks. Fuel is fed to the injectors at a rate much higher than what they need, the excess being used to cool them. This hot fuel is then dumped back into the tank, warming it. Even the Florida East Coast's engines work that way. The Alaska Railroad does have fuel oil preheaters which are thermostatically controlled heat exchangers that use cooling water to heat cold fuel after it leaves the fuel pump and before it goes to the injectors.
Furthermore, their batteries have built in heaters.
This feature is unusual, but it is not unique to the Alaska Railroad.
The only protection they have for the cooling system is the winterization
hatch. EMD engines cannot have antifreeze in the cooling water.
They are too prone to leakage and coolant in the lube oil (a common problem)
would be catastrophic to the silver wrist pin bearings if that coolant contained
antifreeze. And speaking of the lube oil, no heat is provided.
In applications where oil pan heaters are used, it is for the purpose of
reducing wear at the time of cold start. EMDs cannot be started cold. Its
the nature of the beast. (Anonymous)
Answer: Yes, the autoracks
only show up sporadically and appear to only come on the CN barges. A
back when SeaLand and TOTE had union contract problems in Seattle, one dealer
(at least) decided to send his trucks and cars to Alaska via the CN barge
as Seattle was tied up with the strike. This seemed to work well for the
dealer and they continue to get new vehicles this way. They do get
mostly trucks. You will see many different road names such as CN, ATSF,
BN, Conrail, DRGW,
CP and CSX autorack. (Jeff Childs)
Question: How was the Alaska Railroad involved in the diphtheria serum delivery in 1925?
Answer: On January 26, 300,000 units were discovered in Anchorage Railroad Hospital, when the chief of surgery, John Beeson, heard of the need. At Governor Bone's order, it was packed and handed to conductor Frank Knight, who arrived in Nenana on January 27. While not sufficient to defeat the epidemic, the 300,000 units could hold it at bay until the larger shipment arrived. The first musher in the relay was "Wild Bill" Shannon, who was handed the 20 pound (9 kg) package at the train station in Nenana on January 27 at 9:00 PM AKST by Knight.
"The Alaska Railroad played a critical role
during the famed Diphtheria epidemic at Nome in January and February 1925.
attention riveted on the dog team replay dash carrying the antitoxin - man
and malamute racing against time through the frozen north. The contributions
of others were less known. Dan sutherland, the territorial delegate, received
word of the epidemic ay washington, D.C. He requested help from Smith
Smith, ARR General Manager), who was also in Washington. Smith wired the
purchasing agent in seattle to telegraph the Chief surgeon at Anchorage,
who was in turn
instructed to place diphtheria serum on board the train for Nenana. The antitoxin
arrived at Nenana the next day, on January 27 and was transferred to the
team." (Railroad in the Clouds)
Answer: The first and only head on collision on the
Alaska Railroad occurred on October 19, 1943 when northbound freight Extra
901 collided head on with southbound train #553. Both locomotives were
badly damaged, two freight cars were completely wrecked and many other cars
received minor damage. One passenger and three employees were slightly
injured. (Bernadine Prince)
Answer: A bridge at milepost 138.7 is a reminder of one of the most tragic accidents that ever occurred on the ARR. In the spring of 1959, a rail motor car collided with a tie tamper. The motor car operator jumped to safety without injury. Unfortunately, the impact reverse the car, disengaged the brake and opened the accelerator. The car gained speed, flew around a curve and struck three men killing them instantly.
At milepost 117, a broken cable from a winch and cable
operation snapped and wrapped around a set of telephone and power lines
to the railroad. This cause a short circuit which burned up telephone
equipment and caused phones to ring many miles up the line. At milepost
159.8, an employee answered the ringing phone and at the same time stepped
on a metal plate on the floor of a railcar. He was instantly electrocuted.
Answer: The Alaska Railroad
passenger cars need electrical power for lights, intercom, kitchen, heat
air conditioning. Since these passenger cars don't generate their own
electricity, they get it from Head End Power (HEP) units. The HEP
equipped baggage cars, when they work, are barely enough power for the
If they try running too many electrical items on the train at once they have
brown outs. SD70MACs are not equipped with HEP so an additional unit with
HEP (GP40-2's 3009, 3010, 3011, F7B 1503 or E8B P-30) is added. Note
that Westtours and Princess cars have their own generators and thus are
supporting (John Combs)
Answer: In 1956, 72 feet
of snow fell in Whittier. (Pat Durand)
Answer: Before track
is laid the right-of-way must be cleared, leveled and the road ballasted.
Here gravel is used as ballast for the base of the roadbed. In some
parts of Alaska the foremost maintenance problem is the sinking of the roadbed.
On top of a well ballasted bed, the ties are laid. In the rush to construct
the railroad, untreated spruce trees were used because they were readily
at low cost. Today all ties are treated with a protective coating.
However, hardwood ties are used on curves where there is much more stress
while cheaper more available softwood ties are laid on the straight always.
Rails come in various weights ranging from 55 to 136 pounds. This weight
designation indicates pounds per yard. When the Alaska Railroad was
built in 1915 through 1923 55 and 75 pound rails were used. This
light weight rail warped easily because Alaska's extreme winters and permafrost
hasten wear on the track. These rails were replaced in the early 1950s
by 115 pound rail. Today, all mainline track on the Alaska Railroad
is 136 pound rail. Gauge describes the distance between the rails
measured from inside to inside. The width of narrow gauge is three
feet, standard gauge is 4 feet, 8 1/2 inches and wide gauge measures five
feet from rail
to rail. In the earliest days of the Alaska Railroad surplus cars and
engines from the Panama Railroad had to be converted from five foot wide
to standard gauge in order to operate here. (Potter sign board)
Answer: Termination dust, the local term for snow covering the high mountains, signaling the end of summer. (Randy Thompson)
Answer: "An Alaska Railroad
freight train on a run between Anchorage and Fairbanks hit and killed
moose in a single night. I've been here fourteen years and I can't remember
anything like it," said Arnold Polancheck, assistant general manager of
the railroad. "Normally you hit one or two on a trip." (New York Times)
Answer: A section of rail that elongates and bends out of alignment due to heat expansion. Here are two photographs of sun kinks along the Alaska Railroad (photo1, photo2). Incidentally, the first photo now appears in Pearson Science for "College Physics" 2e, by Knight, Jones, Field. Yeah for me!
Question: What is a moose-proof switch?
Answer: We commonly refer to a moose proof switch, as having a moose lock on the switch. It works like this. Located between the head block ties, directly behind the high banner switch stand is a foot lever that you step on, which then releases a rigid metal bar that extends from the foot plate to the base of the closed switch point. The bar has a J design that comes up underneath of the closed point. Once the closed point is opened to allow access into the siding, the metal bar has enough length to allow a full opening of the switch. When closing the switch, the metal bar passes back through the foot pedal housing until the closure of the switch has been made. There is a locking system inside of the housing to ensure the point cannot open in the event a moose is hit by a locomotive and drug through the switch, gapping the switch points underneath a trains movement. We still use them on some switches, but are a pain in the winter to keep them free of ice and snow. (Bruce Gough).
Question: Why does the Alaska Railroad change its trucks?
Answer: The reason was
commercial factors. The Blomberg was invented in 1939, and used by EMD
into the 1980 era. Lot's of them are still in use today. The AAR design
came out in 1940, and was built into the early 1970's. Many still in use
today also. The AAR designs were mostly adopted by the other locomotive
builders, but EMD used the AAR type A switcher truck on 90% of the switchers it
built until the 1970's.
Question: What was the longest freight train?
Answer: On April 29, 2013 Engineer Connor Keogh and Conductor Scott Siegmann took a 10,242-foot (1.94 miles) northbound train out of Anchorage. It consisted off 114 cars (74 loaded and 40 empty) and six locomotives. The train used distributed power with four locomotives in the front and two in the middle.
Question: What locations have continuous welded rail (CWR)?
Answer: John, about the welded rail, that's just about everywhere now, at least on the main. Sidings, yards, industries, and branch lines are jointed rail and probably will be forever. Most of the remaining jointed rail on the main is south of Anchorage. There are a few short sections between Anchorage and Fairbanks; I want to say one spot is up around Clear, there's another spot along the Susitna River, and a few short sections between Cantwell and Denali Park. There's also a short section from about MP 118 to MP 114.7. There may be more, but it's been a while since I've been up north. South of Anchorage, along Turnagain Arm, most of the curves have CWR now, though the rail is still jointed on straight sections. Whittier Branch, except for the Portage Tunnel and in Whittier, is all CWR. South of Portage is pretty much all jointed rail still. There's probably a few other spots I'm not thinking of, if the jointed rail is in good shape, it's not something you think too much about when you're going out the tracks because there are plenty of other things to do. -- James Ogden 12/8/2016
Question: What locations have concrete ties?
Answer: Around the yard, the Flint Hills loop tracks have concrete ties, the main does between CP1140 and CP1147, basically between the ends of the depot tracks. The depot tracks all have concrete ties. And way back in the port the two City Dock tracks have concrete ties. Other than that, all the ties around Anchorage yard are wood (although some tracks seem to be sitting on more mulch than wood). -- James Ogden 12/8/2016