Welcome to the Alaska State Rail Plan Draft (ASRP) Online Review! The purpose of this online review is to:
Use the "Previous" and "Next" arrows on the screen to navigate through this meeting. You may also click on the titles at the top of the page to navigate between stations.
State rail plans are required by the Federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (Public Law 110‐432), which requires states have a Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approved State Rail Plan to receive federal rail funding. In addition, the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities is charged by State law (AS 44.42.020) to plan for all modes of transportation in Alaska. Please note that this is not a plan for either of the two operating railroads, they develop their own capital and operating plans. This is a plan for railroad transportation in Alaska, which addresses issues that affect not only the two existing railroads, but any that may be developed in the future.
Key elements of the ASRP include:
The final Alaska State Rail Plan must be formally approved by the FRA.
ASRP’s Vision Statement and Goals are the broadest expression of the desired outcome and give direction to the plan.
The State of Alaska will use rail to foster growth and trade, build prosperity, connect and support communities, and provide safe and efficient freight and passenger services coordinated with other transportation modes, regionally and internationally.
The goals listed below were developed to help frame the issues to be addressed in the ASRP. Goals are long-term. For each goal, specific objectives were identified to guide state action in the development of its rail system. The objectives are more specific statements that will help implement the ASRP. To review the objectives associated with each goal, please click on the link at the bottom of the page. The goals of the ASRP are:
The Alaska State Rail Plan looks at the state’s entire rail system, which today consists of two operating railroads; the state-owned Alaska Railroad Corporation (ARRC) and the privately owned White Pass & Yukon Route (WP&YR).
The ARRC provides year-round, regularly scheduled freight and passenger services between Seward and Fairbanks—the “rail belt”. Carrying gravel, coal, petroleum products, lumber, and general freight, as well as passengers; the ARRC is a key link in the state's economy. The modern railroad is capable of hauling freight that is too large or heavy for easy transport by highway. In 2013 , the types of freight that generated the most revenue for the ARRC were barge/interline services (38 percent), petroleum (24 percent), and coal (17 percent). The railroad is also an environmentally friendly way of transporting goods.
WP&YR is a seasonal tourism railroad that provides passenger excursions between Skagway, AK and Carcross, YT. They operate over 67.5 miles of track, of which 20 miles are in Alaska. The WPYR operates 20 diesel-electric locomotives, 2 vintage steam locomotives, and 70 restored and replica parlor cars. The oldest car, the Lake Emerald, was built in 1883.
The ASRP shows that there is a need to support and expand railroads in Alaska. Key findings include:
There are many elements in the draft ASRP. Developing solutions to the findings has yielded the following recommendations:
The concept of commuter rail service between Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough has been studied many times, and the desire for commuter rail service between Anchorage and the Valley was one of the most frequently heard comments from the public during the planning process.
Commuter service in Southcentral Alaska could cost approximately $6.3 million per year to operate, while annual fare box revenue is estimated at $2.7 million. Commuter service, if established, would likely require significant annual subsidies.
The planning team also heard considerable interest in the Fairbanks area for commuter rail service there.
Rail transportation will continue to be a primary mode of freight transportation for communities between Seward and Fairbanks. Rail service touches communities outside the immediate rail belt as well through freight transfer to other modes such as trucks or barges.
New rail lines best serve communities and developments that require shipping heavy or bulky products or large quantities of goods over long distances, and for long periods of time. Rail also provides the option of controlling access to land along the new corridors.
New rail lines can be prioritized as near term and longer term improvements. Justification for these projects will rely on the public benefits that they generate, including jobs created or preserved, crossing safety enhanced, emissions reduced, and general quality of life improvements, among others.
A number of potential routes have been identified previously and as part of the current ASRP update process. These include possible rail routes to Nome, to Alaska’s North Slope, to Canada, and to mineral deposits in both Alaska and the Yukon.
The planning context for the ASRP looks at the past, present and future. The purpose of the ASRP is to provide guidance to decision-makers on statewide polices, strategies, and actions that could support rail maintenance, operations and new development. Overarching, state-level policies include:
What do YOU think of the State’s draft rail plan and what rail priorities should be, now and in the future? The project team will take your comments from this on-line open house and use them to shape the final Alaska State Rail Plan. Additional comments can be submitted via e-mail at the Alaska State Rail Plan's comment page, or by clicking the "Comments" button in the navigation panel or simply click "Next".
On behalf of the entire team, we appreciate your time participating in the online public review of the ASRP and leaving us your input. This plan is a major step forward in shaping the future of freight and passenger rail in our state.