Crews repair flood-damaged train tracks

Posted: Sunday, May 19, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Alaska Railroad crews repaired flood-damaged tracks early Friday morning in time to bring a trainload of passengers to Fairbanks.

The train was bearing four Princess Tours and five Westours passenger cars carrying an unknown number of tourists as well as 130 regular railroad passengers, said Mike Olson, Fairbanks railroad superintendent.

The trip, however, was slow going because backlogged freight trains, which share the track with the daily passenger train, were traveling at restricted speeds.

The delay was caused by an ice jam late Tuesday on the Susitna River that caused water to flow over railroad tracks between Chase and Sherman, north of Talkeetna.

The railroad and tour companies sent buses to pick up northbound passengers at Talkeetna and southbound passengers at Denali National Park and Preserve. About 731 northbound passengers on Wednesday and Thursday were bused from Talkeetna with most of them dropped off at Denali Park, said railroad spokesman Patrick Flynn.

Not many passengers were southbound, he said.

Flynn said the flood danger will not be over until all the ice is out of the Susitna River.

''We're keeping an eye on the situation,'' he said.

If the tracks are damaged again, the railroad will continue to run a spur from Hurricane to Talkeetna. Passenger service to Seward and Whittier and gravel trains from Palmer to Anchorage remain on schedule.

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