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Armchair Brakeman
The Alaska Railroad

There is another railroad in Alaska besides the Gold Rush Railroad. It is the Alaska Railroad. After our Alaskan cruise in 2003, my wife and I spent some time in Fairbanks Alaska. Naturally when it was time to leave, we took the train. Fairbanks is the northernmost railroad passenger terminus in North America. Fairbanks is at latitude 64.50 and longitude 147.43 and the winters up there are severe. In 1989-1990 heavy snowfall forced the railroad to put a pilot car in front of freight trains so crew members could fire shotgun blanks to chase moose off the tracks.

The completion of the Alaska Railroad from Seward, AK to Fairbanks, AK was completed on July 15,1923, however the first profitable year they had was 1938. The last steam engine from the line was sold in 1966 and the Alaska Railroad became property of the state of Alaska on Jan 5,1985. Daily express service between Anchorage and Fairbanks didn’t start until 1990 and in 1996 ridership was over 512,000 passengers.

In 1999 the Whittier tunnel was finished and was the first and only tunnel shared by trains and cars in the United States.

Alaska is a breathtaking state and we were looking forward to the scenery on the train ride. However, sometimes it can be very foggy in Alaska. Our train trip was one of those times. We completely missed Mount Mckinley and the surrounding Denali National Park. Oh well, there is always next time.

The train from Fairbanks to Anchorage takes 11 hours 15 minutes. for full schedules

One way fare Fairbanks to Anchorage
Adult 12-64:     $139   
Child 2-11:      $70
PEAK FARES  (June 1 through September 3)
One way fare Fairbanks to Anchorage
Adult:          $194                                
Child:           $97

VALUE FARES (May 15 through May 31 & September 4 through Sept 15)   
One way fare Fairbanks to Anchorage
Adult:       $155.00
Child:       $78.00