Discussion concerning the Alaska Railroad. Alaska Railways Website

Moderator: GOLDEN-ARM

  by MaineCoonCat
Destination America channel (Verizon FIos ch 168) is running a series starting tonight (Sat 11/30/2013 22:00 EST) on the Alaska and those "off grid" folks that depend on it. (Sorry that this post is late and you will need to look for a repeat of the 1st episoode). Check your cable or satellite provider for listings. http://america.discovery.com/tv-shows/railroad-alaska

MODERATORS: If this isn't in the proper forum location. I will be grateful if you move it to the correct one. Thanks! :-D
  by jogden
I caught the first episode of the show at a friend's house. It was alright, although I find very little appealing about reality television. There were some great shots of the scenery up here though!

(Technically, Alaska Railroad is a class 2.) :wink:
  by cristinarosales
I have always wanted to travel to Alaska. I have heard of rail trips from the eastern United States all the way through Canada and into Alaska. I think that would be absolutely amazing to experience. It would give me a chance to experience and visit Alaska, but also enjoy an amazing ride at the same time. I don't know what it costs because I haven't had enough funds or time to consider taking such a trip. I had a boss once who flew to Alaska for a month long vacation. He then had his motorcycle shipped to Alaska, and he rode that back to the eastern United States. It took him something like 2 weeks to make the trip back.
  by jogden
Alaska is farther from the Lower 48 than most people are aware. And it is not off the west coast of Mexico, despite being placed there on some maps! :wink: There is no direct rail link to Alaska exactly, so you either have to fly, drive, or sail part of the way. That said, Alaska Railroad does have interchange with CN and BNSF via barges that operate between Whittier, AK, and Prince Rupert, BC (CN), and Seattle, WA (BNSF). I think Prince Rupert is as close as you can get via passenger train. Conveniently, the Alaska state ferry system also serves Prince Rupert.

Driving up from the Lower 48 can vary widely on time depending how much sightseeing is done along the way. I drove once, but my main motivation was to simply get to Anchorage as quickly as possible. Driving about 14 hours per day, it took four days. That was with good weather the whole way and no vehicle problems. Both of those can add days to the trip.

Alaska Railroad itself is alone, and has no direct rail link to any other railroad. The barge connection is the closest thing we have to a connection to the outside. ARR operates year round and carries both freight and passengers. The 360 mile route between Anchorage and Fairbanks is where most of the traffic lies, but there are regular trains to Whittier and Seward as well, both south of Anchorage. There are also branch lines to North Pole and Palmer which see some usage. While the railroad operates year round, there is a pretty significant traffic drop every fall since the majority of the passengers are tourists. Many locals use the railroad too, but the number of tourists that visit Alaska in a year outnumber the number of Alaskans by nearly two to one.
  by Jeff Smith
Well PapaBarn you have started the first post of the Alaska Railroad Forum! Have fun folks!
  by BandA
I've seen Ice Road Truckers, now I want to see Ice Road Trains ;)
  by jogden
This makes me happy that ARR got their own forum!

As for the ice road trains, come see them! We run year round, and they even just announced two extra, midweek passenger train departures for March.
  by nessman
Watching the show on Animal Planet tonight.
  by nessman
It's on Destination America and Animal Planet. 6-part series. Has a bit of a "reality TV" slant to it - so there are some stupid parts... but for the most part shows the realities of railroading in Alaska.

http://www.destinationamerica.com/tv-sh ... oad-alaska" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

"Following an elite crew of workers-- brakemen, engineers, construction crews, mechanics and train drivers – RAILROAD ALASKA illustrates the battle against ferocious weather and treacherous terrain to keep the State of Alaska’s critical 500-mile long railroad rolling to deliver life sustaining supplies. From controlled avalanches to prevent catastrophe, to fascinating characters, like Jim James, the one-handed handy man, learn what it takes to keep this train on track."
  by jogden
At the present time, they are currently filming ten more episodes for this show, which will likely air in the fall or winter.

The other week I was working with Harry Ross, our most senior Conductor, on the weekend passenger train to Fairbanks. I have only watched part of the first episode of the show, and I did not remember seeing him in it, but apparently he was either in that episode after I stopped watching or a later episode. I had also never worked with Harry before. I was a little surprised shortly after we left Anchorage when we were walking through the coaches and someone stopped him and asked for a picture and an autograph!

The following weekend I was working the passenger train again, with Harry. My wife decided to get a ticket to Fairbanks on that train just to see what exactly I do at work. She boarded the train and sat down while Harry, the engineers, and I went through our paperwork in the office. Once the paperwork was complete, the engineers got on the engine, and Harry and I left our stuff in the baggage car, and then walked over to the depot to get the passenger manifest before departing northbound. My wife told me later that the three ladies sitting around her got all excited when they saw Harry on the platform, because they had seen him on TV! My wife has not watched the show, and had no idea what they were talking about at first, but they quickly filled her in. I guess they described themselves as religious followers of the show, and were riding the train because of it. They later got pictures with Harry and autographs. I guess if the show is selling tickets, I can't complain. We have had unusually large crowds on our winter train recently.

Later that same day, as we were pulling into Talkeetna, I was standing in the step well of the third coach, spotting the engineer to the section house, which we use as the depot in the winter. There was some track machinery parked on an auxiliary track just south of the section house, and I could see all these people standing in front of it. That seemed odd, because the people boarding there usually waited about 500 feet north of there, in front of the section house. As we got closer to the track machinery, I realized that all those people were a camera crew. That was how I learned they were up here filming again! There was another crew at the section house filming the activity there, but that was less surprising after seeing the first group.

Anyway, I won't spoil the entire second season for you, but the camera crews have been out and about filming trains again. I guess the show was fairly successful. Maybe I'll actually watch the rest of it one of these days!
  by alewifebp
I caught two the episodes, and I generally liked what I saw. Really interesting show about what has to be one of the most interesting railroad operations in the US and the world.

What I didn't like was some of the side dramas they created. The one I saw had this pregnant woman and another woman with a baby was coming to stay with her. So they create this drama that she forgot baby formula. Really? You travel all the way in to an off grid place only accessible by rail once a month, and you forget baby formula? And it just happens that she needs baby formula when the once a month train just so happens to be running by? It set up this drama that I guess they have to keep going to keep the show interesting. But I found it a distraction.
  by jogden
I agree with you on the drama. I saw the once a month thing, which is an error. The train runs weekly, every weekend, with an additional train once a month on the first Thursday. I'm guessing she was on the Thursday train, which really means she was two days away from the regular train.

But I guess admitting that in the show would take away from the drama! :P
  by Rbts Stn

You need to make a hand signal to your friends on Railroad.net next time you see the cameras. Something unobtrusive, but something we'll all know it's you saying hi!
  by MattW
I also liked the show! I agree, some of the drama was definitely overplayed, not just with the off-gridders. They seemed to love the creative editing around the two trains that had to stop due to an overheated wheel, then on the last one, I think they tried to overplay the drama of cutting out the brakes of that one car, but I guess they just couldn't play it up any more so it came out a little anticlimatic which it really was. Overall though, they definitely showed the employees in a positive light by this humble Georgia railfan's opinion. I look forward to the second season of it!