Alaska/Railroads

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This page describes known active railroads in Alaska: The Alaska Railroad and The White Pass and Yukon Route. (Also included is a short museum heritage steam train loop). If there are other railways or railroads (including inactive railway=disused or railway=abandoned segments), please gather cohesive, similarly tagged rail elements into a route=railway relation. If there is passenger service, create a route=train relation for each route.

Introduction

The Alaska Railroad is a Class II Railroad owned by the (People of the) state of Alaska, operating on 611 total miles of track, including 466 (470?) miles of main line. The Alaska Railroad connects south-central and interior Alaska, transporting freight and passengers upon its entirety, unique in USA Rail (view with OpenRailwayMap). The Alaska Railroad does not connect by land to Canada or the USA's lower 48 states, rather, connections to the greater North American freight rail network are via railcars on barges: Alaska Rail-Marine Service (owned by Alaska Railroad) between Seward and Harbor Island, Seattle (state of Washington) and Canadian National Aquatrain between Whittier and Prince Rupert, British Columbia (Canada). Not entered into the route=railway tables below are minor spurs serving Anchorage ocean docks, minor spurs in Fairbanks, a short spur crossing the Nenana River at Healy and other short spurs (Hurricane, AFB Clear, Curry, Chugiak-Birchwood...). The structure (mainline, branch, military...) of the Alaska Railroad as expressed in OSM and these tables may not be perfectly correct, so please improve it if superior knowledge of its organization is known.

The White Pass and Yukon Route is a Canadian and USA (Class II or III?) 3 foot (914 mm) narrow gauge railroad linking the Port of Skagway, Alaska, with Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon (Canada). An isolated system, it has no direct connection to any other railroad. Equipment, freight and passengers are ferried by ship through the Port of Skagway, and via road through a few of the stops along its route.

A very short narrow gauge loop museum railroad, the Crooked Creek & Whiskey Island Railroad, located in Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, is included for completeness.

Main Line, Branch and "Special Use" Rail

Name Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
The Alaska Railroad Relation 6824344 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Seward - Grandview - Spencer Whistle Stop - Portage - Girdwood - Anchorage - Wasilla - Hurricane Flagstop Area (Talkeetna - Chase - Curry - Deadhorse - Sherman - Gold Creek - Canyon - Twin Bridges - Chulitna - Hurricane) - Denali - Healy - Nenana - Fairbanks Partially done; needs TIGER review 466 (470?) miles of Alaska Railroad's (ARR) main line tagged usage=main between Seward and Fairbanks. There is double-tracking through Anchorage.
Anchorage Airport Spur Relation 6836180 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport - The Alaska Railroad (main line) Done 3 miles of ARR tagged usage=tourism from Anchorage International Airport. May be better tagged railway=disused, though does see occasional "special use" passenger service.
North Pole Branch Relation 6835924 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Fairbanks - Fort Wainright - North Pole Done 19 miles tagged usage=branch east of Fairbanks through Fort Wainright and North Pole continuing to a 4 mile usage=military spur at Eielson AFB, currently Alaska Railroad's northern terminus. New railway=construction is planned to extend this to Salcha and Delta Junction with Northern Rail Extension Project. Name is a reasonable guess.
Whittier Branch Relation 6835936 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Portage - Whittier Done 11 miles of ARR tagged usage=branch from Portage to Whittier (Harbor).

Freight/Industrial Rail

Name Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
Fairbanks Airport Spurs Relation 6836178 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Fort Wainright - Metro Field - Fairbanks International Airport Done 6 miles tagged usage=industrial from ARR's North Pole Branch to Fairbanks International Airport. Some ways may be better tagged railway=disused. Name is likely wrong.
Grandview Subdivision Relation 6836179 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Palmer Municipal Airport - The Alaska Railroad (main line) Active segments reviewed, disused and abandoned segments not reviewed 6 miles tagged usage=industrial from The Alaska Railroad (main line) to Palmer Municipal Airport. Some ways beyond the airport are tagged railway=disused or railway=abandoned. Name may be wrong. Sees light passenger service during Alaska State Fair (late summer), so usage=tourism may be better tagging.

Military Rail

Name Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
Eielson Relation 6858249 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) North Pole Branch - Eielson AFB Done 4 miles of usage=military rail plus a few additional short spurs on Eielson AFB. Currently Alaska Railroad's northern terminus. Name is a reasonable guess.
Fort Wainright Spurs Relation 6858242 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Fort Wainright - The Alaska Railroad (North Pole Branch) Done Several short spurs and a siding tagged usage=military from North Pole Branch inside of Fort Wainright. Name is likely wrong.
JBER Spur Relation 6836181 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) JB Elmendorf-Richardson - The Alaska Railroad (main line) Done ~10 miles tagged usage=military from The Alaska Railroad (main line) to JB Elmendorf-Richardson. Name is likely wrong.

Narrow Gauge Rail

Name Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
White Pass and Yukon Route Relation 1140614 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Skagway - White Pass - Fraser (British Columbia) - Bennett (British Columbia) - Carcross (Yukon) - Whitehorse (Yukon) Needs TIGER review The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway. Skagway - Carcross = 67.5 miles (108.6 km); Skagway - Whitehorse = 107 miles (172 km). Preserved tourism/heritage narrow-gauge railway. Skagway - Carcross section sees regular (passenger, freight) traffic. North of Carcross to Whitehorse is disused.
Crooked Creek & Whiskey Island Railroad Relation 6878805 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Pioneer Park, Fairbanks Done A very short loop (1.1 km) narrow gauge railway serving the Tanana Valley Railroad Museum in Pioneer Park, Fairbanks

Rail Construction Projects

Name Relation Route Notes
Northern Rail Extension Project Relation 6838074 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) North Pole - Eielson AFB - Salcha - Delta Junction An 80+ mile ARR extension. Phase I (of IV) is complete; a rail bridge now spans the Tanana River at Salcha, believed complete, though still tagged railway=construction. Phase II, from North Pole to Salcha, will be constructed to FRA Class 5 track standards (79 MPH). Approximated segments, please improve with better trackage locations as they become known more precisely.
Port Mackenzie Rail Extension Project Relation 6838075 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Port Mackenzie - near Houston, at The Alaska Railroad (main line) A 32 mile ARR spur in middle-later phased construction, described in September, 2016 as 75% complete. However, end-of-project funding is proving difficult. It is anticipated that by 2018 this will become a new branch of ARR. Pretty rough, many approximated segments, please improve with better trackage locations as they become known more precisely.
South Wasilla Track Realignment Project The single 1.8 mile way is entered South Wasilla, at The Alaska Railroad (main line) between approximately MP 154 and 156 Phase 1 of a "track straightening" ARR project now in late planning, ROW acquisition is complete. Engineering and early construction costs have been evaluated but are not identified. Phase 2 extends westerly an additional 2.2 miles, but is said to be less likely to be constructed due to continuing land development around Wasilla. Approximated segment, please improve with better trackage locations as they become known more precisely.

Passenger trains

Alaska Railroad (ARR), seasonally year-round, regularly scheduled passenger service

The Alaska Railroad connects south-central and interior Alaska, transporting passengers and freight upon its entirety, unique in USA Rail (view with OpenPublicTransportMap). Because of the highly seasonal (summer vs. winter) nature of Alaska passenger rail service, these route=trains should have opening_hours=* tags applied and be more accurately expressed in this table's Trains column (and synced with ref=* tags). Stations columns may disappear once stations stabilize in all v1 relations.

Service Line Route Trains Stations Relation Status
Aurora Winter Train Winter ONLY (September 15 - May 15): AM-All Day North, AM-All Day South, reduced schedule on weekends: Saturday AM-All Day North, Sunday AM-All Day South Anchorage - Wasilla - Talkeetna - Denali - Healy - Nenana - Fairbanks Relation 6824366 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Complete; rough public_transport:version=1 v1; please "double-check review"
Coastal Classic Train AM South, PM North Anchorage - Girdwood - Seward Relation 6824343 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Complete; rough public_transport:version=1 v1; please "double-check review"
Denali Star Train Summer ONLY (May 15 - September 15): AM-All Day South, AM-All Day North Anchorage - Wasilla - Talkeetna - Denali - Healy - Nenana - Fairbanks Relation 6824342 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Complete; rough public_transport:version=1 v1; please "double-check review." Station list may need adjustment.
Glacier Discovery Train AM South, PM North Anchorage - Girdwood - Portage - Whittier - Portage - Spencer - Grandview Relation 6824341 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Complete; rough public_transport:version=1 v1; please "double-check review." Station list may need adjustment.
Hurricane Turn Train Summer (May 15 - September 15): early PM South, late PM North. Winter (September 15 - May 15): AM North, PM South. Talkeetna - Hurricane Flagstop Area - Hurricane Turn. A flagstop train its entire 57 mile length. Relation 6824340 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Complete; rough public_transport:version=1 v1; please "double-check review"

Alaska Railroad (ARR), Special Event scheduled passenger service

ARR offers Special Event trains during limited periods. Chronologically through the calendar year: Ski Train, Easter Train, Who Let The Girls Out, Fair Train, Blues Train, Hoo Doo Choo Choo, Great Alaska Beer Train, Halloween Train and Holiday Train.

Service Line Route Trains Stations Relation Status
Anchorage Airport Train Available ONLY for groups with sufficient advance notice and reservation (summertime only, e.g. cruise ship passengers) Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport - The Alaska Railroad Relation not defined yet No relation, as service depends on ad hoc advance arrangement/reservation
Ski Train By advance ticket purchase only Relation not defined yet Table under construction
Easter Train By advance ticket purchase only Relation not defined yet Table under construction
Who Let The Girls Out Train By advance ticket purchase only Relation not defined yet Table under construction
Fair Train By advance ticket purchase only Anchorage - Alaska State Fairgrounds (near Palmer) Relation not defined yet Table under construction
Blues Train By advance ticket purchase only Relation not defined yet Table under construction
Hoo Doo Choo Choo Train By advance ticket purchase only Relation not defined yet Table under construction
Great Alaska Beer Train By advance ticket purchase only Relation not defined yet Table under construction
Halloween Train By advance ticket purchase only Relation not defined yet Table under construction
Holiday Train By advance ticket purchase only Relation not defined yet Table under construction

White Pass and Yukon Route (WPY) tourism/heritage/historic trains

WPY offers The White Pass Route heritage steam trains on its narrow gauge line through southeast Alaska, British Columbia and Yukon. There seem to be more route=trains available than the single Skagway - Carcross one entered here, please complete (in OSM and table below) any others that are known.

Service Line Route Trains Stations Relation Status
The White Pass Route Narrow Gauge No specific trains known Skagway - White Pass - Fraser (British Columbia) - Bennett (British Columbia) - Carcross (Yukon) Relation 6876460 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Complete; rough public_transport:version=1 v1; please "double-check review." Stations may need adjustment.

Crooked Creek & Whiskey Island Railroad tourism/heritage/historic train

This is a heritage steam train on a 1.1 km narrow gauge loop serving the Tanana Valley Railroad Museum at Pioneer Park, Fairbanks.

Service Line Route Trains Stations Relation Status
Crooked Creek & Whiskey Island Railroad Narrow Gauge No specific trains known Pioneer Park, Fairbanks Relation not defined yet Incomplete, add stations

Yards

Believed "mostly" complete for the larger yards, but if not (there may be more, smaller yards like Seward or Skagway), it would be very kind for OSM volunteers to improve this statewide "Yards" table with status on every single Alaska rail yard. The Bing imagery is unusably low resolution, so we explore http://browse.alaskamapped.org/orthos and GINA imagery: in JOSM, paste tms[16]:http://tiles.gina.alaska.edu/tilesrv/bdl/tile/{x}/{y}/{zoom} into Preferences -> Imagery.

Name Area Subdivision(s), Branch(es) Served TIGER Review Status
Anchorage Yard Anchorage The Alaska Railroad (main line) Needs TIGER review Partially complete
Fairbanks Yard Fairbanks The Alaska Railroad (main line), North Pole Branch Needs TIGER review Partially complete
Seward Yard Seward The Alaska Railroad (main line) No TIGER tags This small yard is a bit rough; GINA imagery is good, not quite enough resolution to see very fine track details
Skagway Yard Skagway White Pass and Yukon Route No TIGER tags This is not much more than some balloon track to a service shop, which is a yard!

Abandoned lines

Former railroad lines, whether still visible on the ground or not, correctly expressed as route=railway relations when there are associated multiple ways. Ways are usually tagged railway=abandoned, railway=disused or rarely, railway=razed.

This table is incomplete. There are many abandoned railway segments in Alaska (though not or likely not in OSM). If you find or enter into OSM an abandoned line (relation link, Review Status...) that needs to be added, updated or improved in this table, please do so!

Name Relation Route TIGER Review Notes
JBER re-route (not official name) Relation 6837995 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) Old line from apparent re-route near JB Elmendorf-Richardson Needs TIGER review Not known when this was abandoned. Some ways are tagged railway=disused.
Quarry near Fox (not official name) Relation 6837869 (XML, iD, JOSM, Potlatch2, history, analyze, manage, gpx) The Alaska Railroad (main line) - Quarry near Fox Needs TIGER review Not known when this was abandoned

Color key for the TIGER Review (route=railway) columns and Service Line (route=train) columns in the tables above

Green means that the route's TIGER data in OSM are fully reviewed. This strongly implies that all other relation attributes are correct, but this isn't always strictly true; see Notes/Status column. Green does not conflict with active public_transport:version v1-v2 growth. Go!

Yellow means "only partially reviewed" ; additional volunteer work is needed to enter or correct additional route data (railway and/or train) into OSM. Yellow may also mean a route has a volunteer entering data, yet route ambiguities persist about what is actually correct.

Red means that "something" (often very little) is known about the route, so it is useful to put a row in the table about it as a placeholder, but it likely may be too early to create a route relation: route data are unknown, incomplete or route attributes are significantly missing.

Color key for the columns in the Passenger-oriented Route (route=train, route=narrow_gauge) tables above

For route=trains, these displayed (web) colors are intended to reflect real-world colors denoted by the transportation authority network, such as in printed, painted or otherwise visually branded materials directly associated with a particular route. A goal is towards more state/national agreement and completion. In Alaska, it is not known if ARR or WPY associates colors with particular routes like this, so if it does, changing from the current "railroad branding" (not route branding) of orange-over-blue or yellow-over-green on a route-by-route basis is appreciated. However, an initial example is that for Amtrak Cascades service in Washington state, OSM's Amtrak wiki table and Indy Hurt's transit-colours renderer both display a closely matching shade of green, which in turn (by intention) better match livery of rolling stock found only on those tracks by that line and class of service. Similar early harmony among Amtrak and California/Railroads is underway, e.g. Capitol Corridor (California state poppy orange), Pacific Surfliner (ocean blue). Color harmony, in motion.