Wash out halts rail service to Seward


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Rail track dangles over Skookum Creek’s new channel near Portage. The washed out rail bed has cut service to Seward and multiple sightseeing stops since Tuesday morning.

Photo courtesy Alaska Railroad

Alaska Railroad passengers hoping to take the train to Seward will have to wait at least one more day to get there by rail.

High water at Skookum Creek near Portage washed out an 80-foot section of the track bed adjacent to the bridge over the creek Tuesday morning.

The railroad’s Glacier Discovery train route has also been shortened as a result of the washout, according to an Alaska Railroad Corp. release. The sightseeing train will stop at Whittier instead of following its normal route to whistle stops at Spencer and Grandview south of Portage.

Seward-bound passengers have the option of taking a motor coach provided by the railroad if they choose.

Railroad crews began maintenance on the right-of-way almost immediately after the erosion was discovered. As of late Wednesday the railroad’s goal was to have service restored by Friday the release states.

“This area experienced significant isolated rainfall that measured as much as a half-inch every 10 to 15 minutes for a sustained period. We are essentially dealing with a new river channel that did not exist,” railroad vice president of engineering Clark Hopp said.

In all, the railroad estimated about 300 to 400 passengers per day are impacted by the schedule changes.

One coal train from Healy to Seward has been delayed as well, the railroad said.

Anyone wishing to cancel or reschedule train tickets or take the motor coach to Seward can call the Alaska Railroad at (907) 265-2494 for more information.

 

Elwood Brehmer can be reached at elwood.brehmer@alaskajournal.com.

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