Posts Tagged ‘Alaska Railroad’

SMART-TD member loses home in fire

On January 9, 2022, tragedy struck in the form of a fire for Alaska Railroad conductor and SMART-TD Local 1626 (Anchorage, Alaska) member Danielle Gallagher. Gallagher and her two children lost their home near Palmer, Alaska, that night, reports Local 1626 Secretary & Treasurer Justin Voss.

Gallagher family

The local has rallied around Gallagher and Alaska SLD and Local Legislative Representative Darren Toppin has set up a GoFundMe account to help her with expenses as the family works to recover from the fire.

“Danielle is a conductor for the Alaska Railroad and a very dedicated employee. She loves her job! Not only is Danielle a great coworker, she is also [a] great friend. She is always willing to reach out and lend a hand and helps anyone in need. No matter the situation,” Toppin said on the GoFundMe page. “This is now our chance to help her and her awesome kids and say, thank you for always having our backs.”

In addition to the loss of their home, some of the family dogs were lost in the fire. The farm animals, including horses and cattle and other livestock, were not harmed.

Click here to make a donation to the fund to help Gallagher and her kids.


Permit sought for Alaska Railroad expansion into Canada

Alaska Railroad could get an extension into Canada, pending the approval of a permit from President Donald Trump, reports the Anchorage Daily News.

In the proposed project by the Alberta to Alaska Railway Development Corporation (A2A), 1,700 miles of track would be built in a plan to make it easier for goods to travel to and from Asia by linking the Canadian rail network to Alaska’s Port MacKenzie. If approved, A2A plans to raise the money needed for the $17 billion project and does not intend to seek any state funding.

The plan’s proponents say that the route would cut two days of transport time for goods to Asia and relieve congestion at ports on the U.S.’s West Coast, the Daily News reported.

A presidential permit is required for all cross-border infrastructure.

Click here to read more from the Anchorage Daily News.

Alaska Railroad back to running at full throttle after earthquake

The Alaska Railroad (ARR) is back up and running after Friday’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake. Regularly scheduled freight services started running again Tuesday, Dec. 4.

ARR suspended all service after the quake in order to assess damage along its nearly 500 miles of trackage and to begin repairs. Some sections of track were damaged or deemed impassable and required immediate repairs. In particular, an area 45 miles north of Anchorage sustained cracks up to four feet wide and 150 feet long on both sides of the tracks.

“We could not be more pleased with the work our crews have done to get the Alaska Railroad back up and running in just over 72 hours,” Dale Wade, vice president of marketing and customer service said in a press release. “This incredible effort from railroaders speaks to the grit and perseverance of Alaska and its people. We are happy to be able to return to serving our passengers and freight customers so quickly.”

The first passenger trains to run as scheduled will be the Winter Hurricane Turn Train on Thursday, Dec. 6, followed by the regularly scheduled Aurora Winter Trains and Holiday trains this weekend.

Alaska Railroad stalled by earthquake damage

A magnitude-7.0 earthquake rippled through Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Anchorage, Alaska, causing collapses and damage to Alaska’s infrastructure on Friday, Nov. 30. More than 200 aftershocks, some up to 5.7 magnitude, continued for 12 hours after the initial quake.

Damage occurred on the Alaska Railroad (ARR), closing the tracks between Anchorage and Fairbanks, a 350-mile trip one way. Cracks up to four feet wide and 150 feet long have been found on both sides of tracks about 45 miles north of Anchorage, The Associated Press reported.

Officials finished a complete inspection of the tracks and bridges Monday morning. All slide zones south of Anchorage have been cleared, and freight has resumed running between Whittier and Anchorage, reports say.

Two areas north of Anchorage are under repair, and train traffic is expected to resume within the next 48 hours, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

ARR’s headquarters also sustained extensive water damage from a pipe ruptured by the quakes, AP reported.

Alaska Railroad to lay off 31 employees, eliminate 18 jobs

The Alaska Railroad announced Friday, Feb. 10 that they will lay off 31 people and eliminate 18 vacant positions, 8 percent of its workforce. Employees were told on Friday that their last day will be March 13. The positions being eliminated range from interns to vice president-level jobs.

The railroad has 609 full-time employees and hires approximately 150 more employees in the summer months to help with increased traffic in passenger rail.

Since 2008, Alaska Railroad has eliminated more than 300 year-round positions.

Click here to read more from the Alaska Dispatch News.

Alaska Railroad first approved to transport LNG

Alaskan RxR PhotoWASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski responded to the news that the Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) became the first railroad in the nation permitted to transport liquified natural gas (LNG) by rail, saying:

“I am pleased the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently approved the Alaska Railroad’s request to move liquified natural gas via rail to Fairbanks. The Interior of Alaska is in need of an affordable energy source and natural gas by rail holds real promise.”

Read more from KTVF

Destination America renews ‘Railroad Alaska’

alaska_Rail_logoDestination America is returning to Alaska.

The Discovery owned cable network has renewed Railroad Alaska for a second season, which is set to premiere on Saturday, Oct. 25, at 9/8c, TVWise has learned.

Railroad Alaska follows an elite crew who live along Alask’a critical railway as they tirelessly work to keep the train rolling 365 days a year in order to deliver life-sustaining supplies to Americans living off the grid and miles away from civilization. Tom Langan and Jane McGoldrick serve as series producers on the series, which is produced by indie Wind Fall Films. The executive producers are Carlo Massarella, David Dugan and Caroline Perez.

Read the complete story at TV Wise.

Wabtec signs $16.6M contract with Alaska Railroad

alaska_Rail_logoWabtec Corp. has signed contracts valued at $16.6 million with Alaska Railroad Corp. to provide Positive Train Control equipment and services, the Wilmerding-based company announced Wednesday (April 2).

The systems will be installed on the railroad’s 525 miles of controlled track, which are used for both freight and passenger service. Under the contract, Wabtec said it will provide its Interoperable Electronic Train Management System equipment and PTC components for 54 locomotives.

Read the complete story at Pittsburgh Business Times.

Alaska Railroad is focus of six-part TV series

alaska_Rail_logoFAIRBANKS – The Alaska Railroad is known across the state, and now it’s getting national attention thanks to a six-part documentary commissioned by the Discovery Channel.

“Railroad Alaska” debuts Nov. 16 on the Destination America channel, one of several channels the Discovery Channel owns, with each hour-long episode focusing on the railroad and the communities it serves as well as railroad crews who work on everything from track maintenance to those employees who operate the locomotives.

Read the complete story at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.

O’Leary named Alaska Railroad CEO

The Alaska Railroad Board of Directors has named Bill O’Leary President and CEO of the Alaska Railroad, succeeding Chris Aadnesen.

O’Leary will start in his new position this Friday, Nov. 1, 2013. 

Read the complete story at Railway Age.


Alaska Railroad announces new management team

alaska_Rail_logoAs part of a reorganization, the Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) recently realigned its top-level management team, including the appointment of William O’Leary as chief operating officer and Barbara Amy as chief financial officer.

ARRC’s vice president of finance and CFO since 2001, O’Leary now is responsible for transportation, engineering, mechanical, safety, labor relations, marketing, customer service and grant administration functions. He previously served as the railroad’s interim president and chief executive officer in 2010.

Read the complete story at Progressive Railroading.


New surface transport law a mixed bag

It’s not all we wanted, but, maybe more important, it’s not as bad as it could have been.

Given the polarization of this Congress, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century – MAP-21 – is as good a new transportation authorization bill as we could have hoped for. Passed by bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate June 29, President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law.

This is what MAP-21 does as it applies to bus, commuter rail, intercity passenger rail and freight rail:

* It increases federal expenditures for federal transit programs – bus and commuter rail – beginning in October and continuing through September 2014. Within those numbers, however, is a reduction in bus and bus facilities spending, which is a victory of sorts since an earlier version sought to zero out such spending.

* It allows transit systems operating fewer than 100 buses in peak service to use a portion of their capital grants for operating expenses. This will allow money for smaller, cash-strapped systems to keep buses on the road and return furloughed drivers to work. But, sadly, larger bus system do not gain such flexibility — even during periods of high unemployment.

* It extends a $17 billion federal loan program for transit and freight rail operators, making, for example, up to $350 million available to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LACMTA) for transit improvements.

* It grants authority to the Department of Transportation to create a national safety plan for all modes of public transportation, which will result in minimum standard safety performance standards for systems not currently regulated by the federal government. These safety performance standards will include establishment of a national safety certification training program for employees of federal- and state-owned transit system.

* It requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to establish a national registry of medical examiners within one year, and requires employers periodically to verify the commercial driver license status of employees.

* It provides 80 percent in federal match dollars for transit systems to develop and carry out state safety oversight programs. State oversight will include review, approval and enforcement of transit agency safety plans, including audits by the Federal Transit Administration.

* It scraps at attempt to eliminate overtime and minimum wage provisions for van drivers whose routes cross state lines.

* It strengthens Buy America requirements for all new bus and passenger-rail rolling stock and other capital expenditures, which means more American jobs.

* It leaves in place a requirement that positive train control be implemented on all track carrying passenger rail — commuter and Amtrak — by Dec. 31, 2015. It does, however, reduce the PTC installation requirement for freight railroads, providing that PTC to be installed on fewer than 40 percent of main line trackage by Dec. 31, 2015, with 60 percent (freight only trackage) continuing to use existing train control systems.

* Importantly, it does not include a provision sought by conservatives that would have blocked federal funds for operation of Amtrak’s long-distance trains in 27 states, nor does it include a provision that would have had the same effect by denying federal funds for subsidizing food and beverage service on long-distance trains.

* Also, on the positive side for Amtrak, it provides a new federal grant program to improve or preserve Amtrak routes exceeding 750 miles, and it makes Amtrak eligible for other federal grants on corridor routes and funds intended to help ease highway congestion. Other Amtrak operating and capital grants are provided in separate legislation.

* A provision that originated in the Senate to eliminate almost 75 percent of Alaska Railroad federal funding and the $6 million in congestion and air quality mitigation funding for Amtrak’s Downeaster train in New England was amended. The Alaska Railroad funding now will be cut by 13 percent in each of the next two years by applying a new funding formula, and the air quality mitigation funding will continue for the Downeaster.

* It does not increase weight and length limits for trucks on federal aid highways – which would adversely impact rail traffic and rail jobs – but does allow an extension for current higher weights on some highway corridors while another study on the impact of liberalizing truck weight and length limits is conducted.

“Even though it has shortcomings from what we would have preferred, our members are better off with the compromise. Had there been no bill, we may have faced the undermining of public transportation by conservatives who want to push public transportation’s expense to the fare box and those who can least afford it,” said UTU National Legislative Director James Stem.

The Federal Transit Administration has created a website to provide more information on MAP-21. Click below to view the website: