Talk:Alaska Railroad

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edit·history·watch·refresh 25 railtransportation.svg To-do list for Alaska Railroad:
  • Add the railroad's herald
  • Add a photo or two of Alaska Railroad trains
  • Add a system map

History note[edit]

One episode in the Alaska Railroad's history was the use of Alaska Native slave labor (or labor at slave wages, I'm not sure which) to build the Anchorage-Fairbanks connections. I don't know enough about this to write anything on it, but this seems to be a pattern in American railroad building, and would be worth a mention if this is the case. Deirdre 19:29, 26 Mar 2005 (UTC)

More commonly, labor at very poor wages and conditions than truly legally slave, if I recall right (except no doubt in the antebellum South). The mostly Chinese or Irish workers that built the American railroads were legally free men, although sometimes of lesser legal status nonetheless. —Morven 02:53, Mar 27, 2005 (UTC)

Route extension?[edit]

The article states the ARR's route is between Seward and Fairbanks. Doesn't it actually continue (freight only) to North Pole? I'm not 100% sure so I didn't want to edit the article.

And then they're finishing building the extension to Fort Greely to serve the new missile launch site there, so we'll need to watch for that...pretty soon, someone'll get to edit it saying the ARR's met with the Canadian rail system! :-)

cluth 02:52, Mar 30, 2005 (UTC)

Answering my own question: yes, there is an 18-mile spur from Fairbanks to North Pole and Eielson AFB. I'm planning to get around to adding a bunch of info to this page someday soon... cluth 21:20, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Sources for maps[edit]

Some maps to look at adding. Permission needs to be requested of the appropriate copyright holders, however.

The AKRR is a State of Alaska corporation. Do State agencies have the same policies of ideas/logos being public domain? If so, we could use an AKRR-produced map.

I will see if I can get permission from the AKRR to use one of their maps. Can someone see if they can get in touch with Trains magazine? cluth 19:52, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

Location map[edit]

Rough "Location map" of important points can be created with {{Location map+}} and {{Location map~}}:

Alaska Railroad is located in Alaska
Alaska Railroad

Ship Creek Anchorage and Fairbanks are the two "important" middle-of-the-line stops, I noted the other "significant" end-of-lines, but I did not include all of the other short-spurs.

If someone posts a list of which points they want included, I can rough out one. LeheckaG (talk) 15:13, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

TVRR Fairbanks-Chatanika before AEC RR (now ARR) decommissioned it in 1930. Other (current) spurs are Palmer and a coal mine spur near Healy. LeheckaG (talk) 23:43, 17 July 2008 (UTC)


Another option is {{GeoGroupTemplate}} which provides a "Map of all coordinates" option. Coordinates are placed with the {{Coord}} template either in a table or interspersed with text in the article. {{GeoGroupTemplate}} when selected opens up a new tab or window with Google Maps, and a Wiki ToolServer script reads the Wiki article and populates the map.

With appropriate {{Coord}} templates, you can provide "name=" for each one so that they are labeled on a map. LeheckaG (talk) 15:25, 16 July 2008 (UTC)

Fairbanks-Tanana narrow gauge[edit]

The article states that the federal government bought the Fairbanks-area narrow gauge line and extended it to Nenana. Now, at what point was this narrow-gauge line widened to the same standard gauge as the Seward-Nenana portion? GBC 17:46, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

Alaska Railroad says: "June 1917: Railroad construction crews peak at 4,500 workers. The Tanana Valley Railroad, a 45-mile narrow-gauge line into Fairbanks from the Chatanika mining area to the northwest, was purchased, principally to obtain its Fairbanks terminal facilities." Alaska Railroad - History LeheckaG (talk) 21:34, 17 July 2008 (UTC)

Class II versus Class III[edit]

Class II or Class III ?

49CFR1201: "1-1 Classification of carriers. (a) For purposes of accounting and reporting, carriers are grouped into the following three classes:

  • Class I: Carriers having annual carrier operating revenues of $250 million or more after applying the railroad revenue deflator formula shown in Note A.
  • Class II: Carriers having annual carrier operating revenues of less than $250 million but in excess of $20 million after applying the railroad revenue deflator formula shown in Note A.
  • Class III: Carriers having annual carrier operating revenues of $20 million or less after applying the railroad revenue deflator formula shown in Note A.
  • Note A: The railroad revenue deflator formula is based on the Railroad Freight Price Index developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The formula is as follows: Current Year's Revenues x (1991 Average Index/Current Year's Average Index)"
  • 49CFR1201 - 49 CFR Chapter X Surface Transportation Board, General Instructions 1-1

Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) are administrative and not legislative (so they have to be authorized by USC):

as authorized by United States Code - the actual U.S. law:

  • Since ARR operating revenue was $132.7 million (2006), what were the BLS "Railroad Freight Freight Price Index" for 1991 and current?

The Class II and Class III templates need to get updated as well as the Class II and Class III articles. i.e. the Class II versus Class III $ figure increases (from $10 million to $20 million?):

  • 57 FR 27185, June 18, 1992
  • 57 FR 31754, July 17, 1992

Prior to 1994, they are apparently not available on-line.

  • 66 FR 56245, Nov. 7, 2001 Class I changed to $250 million
  • 67 FR 57533, Sept. 11, 2002 wording changes

LeheckaG (talk) 12:07, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, Surface Transportation Board, Indexing the Annual Operating Revenues of Railroads

This Notice sets forth the annual inflation adjusting index numbers which are used to adjust gross annual operating revenues of railroads for classification purposes. This indexing methodology will insure that regulated carriers are classified based on real business expansion and not from the effects of inflation. Classification is important because it determines the extent of reporting for each carrier.
The railroad's inflation factors are based on the annual average Railroad's Freight Price Index. This index is developed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This index will be used to deflate revenues for comparison with established revenue thresholds.
The base year for railroads is 1991. The inflation index factors are presented as follows: Page 49348
                         Railroad Freight Index
                       Year                           Index     Deflator
1991..............................................     409.50     100.00
1992..............................................     411.80      99.45
1993..............................................     415.50      98.55
1994..............................................     418.80      97.70
1995..............................................     418.17      97.85
1996..............................................     417.46      98.02
1997..............................................     419.67      97.50
1998..............................................     424.54      96.38
1999..............................................     423.01      96.72
2000..............................................     428.64      95.45
2001..............................................     436.48      93.73
2002..............................................     445.03      91.92
2003..............................................     454.33      90.03
2004..............................................     473.41      86.40
2005..............................................     522.41      78.29
2006..............................................     567.34      72.09
EFFECTIVE DATE: January 1, 2006.

Ex Parte No. 492, Montana Rail Link, Inc., and Wisconsin Central Ltd., Joint Petition for Rulemaking With Respect to 49 CFR 1201, 8 I.C.C. 2d 625 (1992), raised the revenue classification level for Class I railroads from $50 million to $250 million (1991 dollars), effective for the reporting year beginning January 1, 1992. The Class II threshold was also revised to reflect a rebasing from $10 million (1978 dollars) to $20 million (1991 dollars). FR28au07-166 - Federal Register: August 28, 2007 (Volume 72, 166) Page 49347-49348

$132.7 million (for 2006) * 409.50 / 567.34 = $95.8 million (for 2006)

Unless I am missing something in all of the above, ARR is Class II (clearly above the "$20 million" 1991 threshhold)? LeheckaG (talk) 13:17, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

I did a few searches, there appear to be more documents citing ARR as "Class II" than the one document NE2 cited which says it is Class III. The authoritative answer would be either:

  • "Classification Index Survey Form" filed by ARR with STB, DoT
  • "Annual Report Form R-1" filed by ARR with Interstate Commerce Commission/DoT

LeheckaG (talk) 14:00, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

The operating revenue figure is pretty convincing. I emailed the STB asking if they made a typo. --NE2 15:17, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
If or when you get in contact with them, you might ask them if they have a list (of which railroad is in which class) or if either of the filed forms (Classification Index Survey Form or Annual Report Form R-1) are available to the public? LeheckaG (talk) 15:53, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
Annual Report Form R-1 is, but only the Class Is have to file it: [1] The "Classification Index Survey Form" seems to be an old ICC thing that the STB no longer requires. --NE2 16:20, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
I guess bottom line is then for Class I's - the authoritative answer source is whether or not they filed a Form R-1 with the STB/DoT (should be fairly easy then to make and verify a list of class I's from the R-1 forms on file). Any railroad which is not an the Class I list, then one has to dig up their annual financial reports and look up the annual "operating revenue" figure and see where it is after applying the "Note A" correction relative to $20 million USD cut-off. LeheckaG (talk) 16:39, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
I don't think there's ever been confusion about Class Is: BNSF, CN, CP, CSX, KCS, NS, UP. The only question is whether Amtrak qualifies (they don't have to file a R-1), and for that you have to decide whether to include passenger carriers. --NE2 17:07, 31 July 2008 (UTC)
National Passenger Rail Corporation as a federally chartered corporation "owned" by the U.S. government (American people) but with stock shares issued to the railroads who contributed capital (equipment and tracks) to Amtrak, so Amtrak is an "odd animal". Technically, they should fall under the Class I provisions of 49CFR1201 (which does not make a distinction between freight and passenger services - if there was a large $250M+ non-federal passenger they would be Class I and would be required to file Form R-1). I am not sure why Amtrak is not required to file a Form R-1, guessing that there is an exception elsewhere in the USC, CFR or their original charter - because they are federally chartered? LeheckaG (talk) 18:48, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

"The Board does not have regulatory authority over the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) in most matters. See 49 U.S.C. 24301(c). The Board does have limited authority, however, to ensure that Amtrak can operate over the track of the nation’s freight railroads." They were required to report to the ICC: [2] --NE2 19:09, 31 July 2008 (UTC)

STB response[edit]

I'm copying this verbatim because I got confused trying to figure it out.

     In your email, you stated that Alaska Railroad Corporation filed in
2007 as a Class III rail carrier a construction and operation exemption
before the Surface Transportation Board in Docket No. FD 34658,  ALASKA
Pole Alaska and the Delta Junction, Alaska Area, decision served October 4,
2007.   You further stated that Alaska Railroad reported operating revenues
of $132.7 million for 2006 and should not have qualified for Class III

     However, the financial analysis of the Alaska Railroad Corporation
(ARC)Annual Report for 2003 (on their that the
$132.7 million was for their "Fund Equity" on page 28, not operating
revenues.  In fact, its operating revenues on page 29 less operating
expenses are $11.9 million for 2003 and $2.1 million for 2002.  In my
opinion, ARC is well within the threshold as a class III carrier.  To
dispute these numbers and its proper application, you should further
contact our Section of Economics, Mr. Scott Decker at

--NE2 22:15, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

NOTE: "Operating revenue" is what the 49 CFR 1201 cites, not "Operating income" (the later is revenue less expenses).

Is STB talking about (2003 or 2006)?

Someone else had posted the 2006 ARR financial figures (possibly from the wrong line items in the annual financial reports?). So WP trains or the (US/Canadian) Class I/II/III articles should probably have "guidance" as to exactly which financial line item (and if there are any exclusisions)?


STB cited the ARR 2003 Annual Report ("page 29" which is "page 16 of 27" in the PDF), 2003 (in thousands) "Operating Revenue":

  • 84,074 Freight
  • 14,174 Passenger
  • 245 Other
  • 98,493 Total transportation revenue
  • 14,665 Grant revenue
  • 113,158 Total

"Operating income" was:

  • 11,931

Similary, Page 7 of 39 says "(in thousands): 2006 Operating Revenue"

  • 89,623 Freight
  • 21,292 Passenger
  • 456 Other
  • 111,371 Total transportation revenue
  • 21,299 Grant revenue
  • 132,670 Total

"Operating income" was:

  • 4,251

So need a clarification whether "Operating revenue" (which 49 CFR 1201 cites) or "Operating income" (which the response you received from the STB implies) is the correct figure to determine whether a railroad is Class I, II, or III. Another approach would be to find out whether the documented Class I railroads had Operating Revenue greater than $250 million, or Operating Income greater than $250 million. LeheckaG (talk) 21:12, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

OK, that's what I thought the issue was (income vs. revenue) but I couldn't be sure. Do you mind emailing about this? --NE2 21:24, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
It certainly appears that revenue, not income/net revenue, is the correct number; the KCS had revenues of $925 million and net revenues of $155 million or $171 million. The cutoff for Class I is $250 million. --NE2 21:31, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, KCS appears to be the smallest (financially) of the Class I s - the others are in the "billions". Yes, I can/will e-mail the address above to get a clarification as to "operating revenue" or "operating income".
For the "other Alaskan" railroad: WP&YR (White Pass and Yukon Route Railway) which is a subsidiary of Tri-White corporation traded on the Toronto stock exchange T: TWH, they are classified as a Class II under Transport Canada rules (Transport Canada rules have the same "$250 million" Class I/II boundary but do not have the "annual freight index adjustment" which the US does, Class III effectively means a "non-railway" in Canada i.e. a railway-related company which does not actually operate a railway); possibly as a Class II under U.S. rules (considering how the rules lump smaller subsidiaries into a larger parent's classification/financial size, even though the actual WP&YR subsidiary is a considerably smaller operation than ARR). LeheckaG (talk) 22:03, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

"Written like an ad" banner[edit]

Moved here for discussion. I don't know whether someone has fixed it since the banner was posted or if the banner was gratuitous. It appeared to apply to the section "Routes and tourism". The tone of this section is factual, not promotional. Dankarl (talk) 04:30, 28 August 2009 (UTC)


Can someone put somewhere on the page the definitive list of stops/stations on the line? For instance, does is there a stop in Wasilla or is that city served by the Palmer stop? --Criticalthinker (talk) 10:24, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

Northern Rail Extension[edit]

If someone has some time, it might be worth updating this section. The bridge is built (although there is still no track to or from it)Name Omitted (talk) 18:14, 16 April 2016 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Alaska Railroad/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Needs references. Slambo (Speak) 20:14, 18 October 2006 (UTC)

Last edited at 20:14, 18 October 2006 (UTC). Substituted at 07:02, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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