Alaska Railroad north-end track re-opened
UPDATE: Freight traffic to resume by late Tuesday afternoon
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska Railroad (ARRC) track repair crews have repaired a major washout that left 500 feet of mainline track dangling just south of Gold Creek (ARRC Milepost 261, about 35 miles north of Talkeetna). Freight traffic is expected to resume through the affected area by 4:00pm today.
The section of washed out track runs parallel to the Susitna River and is accessible only by rail. Thirty-five railroad crew members worked double-shifts around-the-clock to rebuild the track bed using large rocks and fill material hauled in from both sides of the site. Equipment involved bulldozers, excavators, and two work trains.
Since Tuesday, September 18, the railroad has been plagued with severe weather problems that include high winds blowing debris onto the track, mudslides from water-logged soils, and floodwaters washing out the trackbed and bridge abutments. Initial cost estimates for repairing system-wide weather related damage are now approaching $2 million. Additional cost estimates for responding to operational interruptions and revenue lost due to suspended train operations will be available later this week, and are expected to be substantial.
The area of focus since Friday has been a 70-mile stretch of rail corridor between Willow and Gold Creek, where the track and several bridges have been impacted by high, fast water. With the Gold Creek area washout repaired, crews will now turn their attention to the less severe water erosion that has occurred all along the line, from Seward to Nenana.
Freight trains normally scheduled to run between Anchorage and Fairbanks have not been able to operate since Wednesday. Likewise, the regularly scheduled weekend Aurora winter passenger train was cancelled this past weekend, and instead passengers were bused from Anchorage to Fairbanks on Saturday, and from Fairbanks to Anchorage on Sunday. We expect the Aurora winter train to operate on schedule September 29-30. The monthly Hurricane Turn flagstop train that travels between Anchorage and Talkeetna on the first Thursday of the month is still scheduled to operate October 4. For passenger rail service updates, please contact railroad reservation line at (907) 265-2494.
Given the forecast for continued rain, railroad officials continue to watch for any new flood damage in Healy and Nenana, where the Nenana River is flooding, as well as along the southern end of the railroad. The rail corridor between Anchorage, Seward and Whittier remains open. Minor washouts have occurred in the Seward area in the last several days and have been repaired.
ARRC is an Equal Opportunity Corporation. If you need special assistance (including language) in order to participate in any ARRC service, program, or activity, please contact: Alaska Railroad Corporation; Attention: Legal Department; P.O. Box 107500; Anchorage, AK 99510; or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, (907) 265-2461; via Alaska Relay Service for hearing impaired – dial 7 11 anywhere inside Alaska, OR dial toll-free from anywhere outside the state 1-800-770-8255 (voice); 1-800 770-8973 (TTY). Upon request, printed materials can be made available in alternate formats.