Alaska RR

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Oreius

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Thank you to whomever recommended taking the Alaska RR. We are going from Anchorage to Seward in Gold Star Service, followed by a boat ride to the glaciers. It was not cheap, but how often do you go to Alaska? This, along with the Starlight, will make this vacation “The Train Vacation.”
 

pennyk

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I traveled from Anchorage to Fairbanks on Alaska RR Gold Star a few years ago. It was great. It was worth every cent. Because it was early in the season (late May), it was not crowded.

Mine was a very long train/cruise vacation from Florida. (Silver Meteor/CL/EB/Cascades to Vancouver/cruise to Whittier/bus transfer to Anchorage/Alaska RR to Fairbanks/Cruise tour from Fairbanks through Denali to Whittier/Cruise to Vancouver/Amtrak back to Florida same route).
 

Cal

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Mine was a very long train/cruise vacation from Florida. (Silver Meteor/CL/EB/Cascades to Vancouver/cruise to Whittier/bus transfer to Anchorage/Alaska RR to Fairbanks/Cruise tour from Fairbanks through Denali to Whittier/Cruise to Vancouver/Amtrak back to Florida same route).
Wow. What an amazing trip
 

flitcraft

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That trip sounds amazing! I'd love to see a trip report when you return, if you have time to do it.
 

JayPea

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I took the Anchorage to Fairbanks trip six years ago and loved it. The scenery is spectacular and got to go through Sarah Palin's home town of Wasilla.😉 This was part of my quest to say I've been in all 50 states. Alaska was #41 on the way to 50.
 

west point

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What is the status of an extension that includes Wasilla ? Cannot remember the end points of that proposal.
 

pennyk

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What is the status of an extension that includes Wasilla ? Cannot remember the end points of that proposal.
When I traveled from Anchorage to Fairbanks in 2017, the train went through Wasilla. The narrator mentioned the city and its significance in US history.
 

jiml

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Great recent reviews of the service are available on YouTube. Noted airline reviewer Jeb Brooks did Gold Star and Simply Railway, whom many here follow, has done off-peak coach service in both directions.
 

WWW

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LINK to Alaska RR site:

Alaska Railroad | Alaskan Tours & Vacations | Train Packages

The passenger services is for the most part summer seasonal - - -
During the winter off season month passenger trains run 1 a week and stop just about anywhere any mile post of the track.
This is the life blood of transportation for those residing in the wilderness -
Wildness residents hail the train going to town (city) for essential supplies and make arrangements with the conductor for
the return stopping at a designated mile post.
Freight trains run year round with interchange of lower 48 cars at the port of Whittier
The PBS TV network has run several videos of the Alaska RR in all types of weather

The passenger service is from Fairbanks 350+ miles south to Anchorage - a 12 hour trip with a crew change about halfway
to the awaiting northbound trip
Any critter crossing the tracks or seen on the wayside is cause for commentary and slowing of the train
AND THEN THERE IS THE MOUNTAIN - Mount Denali - when the mountain is OUT things really slow down for the photo opt !
There are two classes of service on the summer trains - basic coach and the bi-level Gold Star with bunch of perks and a view

From Anchorage there are two sea ports -
Whittier and Seward -
Passenger rail traffic for the cruise lines and some excursions -and- rail freight traffic year around

MAP LINK:

Google Maps

Route Map | Alaska Railroad

Zoom in and pan around - you can follow the railroad tracks

At the top of the map is Anchorage follow the bright gold line (highway) to where is reverses it self (Wildlife Conservation Center)
- Whittier off to the right - at this point is the junction with the line going to Seward - the Seward line does not follow or is adjacent
to a highway - really off into the bush - a must see thrilling scenic trip - tunnels - and tight turns to see the end of the train or front
A 4+ hour trip each way with 7 hour turnaround in Seward (unless taking a cruise)
The Whittier trip is a 3+ hour trip and passes thru a very long tunnel before arriving at the cruise terminal and freight rail docks.
The Anton Anderson tunnel was constructed by the railroad and at first automobiles buses and trucks were ferried by Marine transport
ships (or on rail cars) to the port and then loaded onto flat bed car (think east coast auto-train) transported thru the tunnel where
the cars buses and trucks would be driven from that point to their Alaska destination - - - - - now the tunnel is paved over and the cars
and trucks do not have to moved by rail car
There is however this thing about waiting for your que (turn) to use the tunnel with the railroad traffic.
The tunnel is one-way for a period of time and then reverts to one-way opposite direction.
Exciting knowing how everything works and function and the history behind it.
At Wasilla there is spur going to Palmer - unknown
There are lots of other spurs and wyes - commercial - government and the Anchorage rail yard

You don't have to be on a cruise to ride the Alaska RR - you can fly into Anchorage or less often Fairbanks and ride the heck out of this
eventful fun trip !!!

Some segments of this are booked full with the cruise lines using the RR as an extension of an excursion -
non cruise wise be flexible the trips are not full all the time - but book early - the railroad does assigned seating in the bi-level dome cars.

This is enough for one posting.
Seward and Whittier are same day round trips (Coastal Classic) -
The Anchorage Fairbanks is a whole day -12 hour trip (Denali Star) -
 

jis

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Been there and done that (Anchorage - Fairbanks - Anchorage Winter Aurora) , in the depth of winter. It was -35F in Fairbanks when we arrived there. It was an hour or so after the tail end of a vicious blizzard had just passed by, so everything was covered in feet of snow. Fortunately the roads were all cleared and passable on a bed of packed snow and ice. I was astonished to find a Sikh Taxi Driver who drove me from the station to my hotel while we traded stories of "back home in Delhi". :) He came back the following morning to take me back to the station.

On both runs the train crew allowed us to keep the dutch doors open when it was not blizzarding outside, to take pictures. It was a memorable trip.
 

Cal

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The Alaska railroad is definitely on my bucket list, I would love to go on all the trackage.
 
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