Alaska’s railways are booming

THE most northern US State Alaska has two rail systems operated by separate companies on different gauges – and both are experiencing a boom in passenger numbers.

The WP&YR dieselised between 1954 and 1966, buying 11 GE-built Alco 6-251A-engined ‘Shovelnose’ locos. They remain in service, albeit re-engined in 2009-2011, with Cummins QSK45L engines. The ‘Shovelnose’ design was exported widely in the 1950s and some locos remain in use in limited numbers with original Alco engines in Chile , Uruguay and Thailand. WP&YR ‘Shovelnoses’ 93+92, both delivered by GE in December 1956, take the Railroad Dock/Long Siding route at Skagway Junction on July 11, having returned from the White Pass Summit. ANDREW GARRETT
The WP&YR dieselised between 1954 and 1966, buying 11 GE-built Alco 6-251A-engined ‘Shovelnose’ locos. They remain in service, albeit re-engined in 2009-2011, with Cummins QSK45L engines. The ‘Shovelnose’ design was exported widely in the 1950s and some locos remain in use in limited numbers with original Alco engines in Chile , Uruguay and Thailand. WP&YR ‘Shovelnoses’ 93+92, both delivered by GE in December 1956, take the Railroad Dock/Long Siding route at Skagway Junction on July 11, having returned from the White Pass Summit. ANDREW GARRETT

The systems offer stunning scenery and run multiple passenger trains daily in summer, catering mainly for passengers on cruise ships, which call at the ports of Skagway and Seward.

From Skagway the White Pass and Yukon Route (WP&YR) line heads north, climbing 3,000 feet in 20 miles, and terminates in Carcross, across the US/Canadian border, in the Yukon Territory.

The remaining 43 miles to Whitehorse closed in 1982 and is unlikely to reopen without a new freight customer. The 914 mm- (3ft-gauge) line dates back to the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898.

Read more in September’s issue of The RM

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