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ARRC Coastal Classic Train Page 3

Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic Train

By Richard Elgenson, RailNews Network
Page 3

June 27 to 30, 2004

Eventually some of the tour guides walked from the front of the train to the rear doing a "fashion show" with gift shop wares.  Notice the large windows in the coach car.


The train continues up a valley until it climbs a grade overlooking Spencer Lake with Spencer Glacier in the distance.



We then proceed through 5 curved tunnels above the Placer River Gorge and the track crosses that river after the last tunnel.



There is a section house here at Tunnel (MP 51) to house workers who maintain the railroad through here.  We were placed onto a siding for the benefit of the Grandview train which caters to cruise ship customers.  It is based in Seward and does a round trip most days stopping at the Ted Stevens International Airport and the Alaska Railroad Anchorage Depot.  Morning northbound passengers depart Seward from their cruise ship and southbound passengers are heading to their cruise ship.



The Coastal Classic was backed out of the track and proceeded southward again.


Above the Tunnel area, the railroad enters the loop district.  The Coastal Classic continues to climb through the loop district in a series of "s" curves, engineered to replace the costly to maintain loops.  In the age of steam, locomotives were limited to a 1% grade climb with a loaded train.  The advent of diesel locomotives changed that to 3% and thus the loop district was re-engineered to abandon the loops.  There were two loops, which allowed elevation gain to climb out of the Tunnel area to the south.  Trains could loop over track that they had just traversed.


Remnant parts of he lower loop are still visible.  To the left of the present route, one can see a portion of the old mainline with a gap where a trestle bridge used to be.  Other remnants are visible including bridge piers and other overgrown abandoned mainline.  The track continues to climb and run by the Bartlett Glacier, named for Frank Bartlett, an Alaska Central Railroad (predecessor company to Alaska Railroad) civil engineer.  Bartlett Glacier is just 800 feet away from the track, the closest glacier to the railroad.  Above Bartlett, Deadman Glacier is visible.  Most of the items mentioned here will be shown in other views in the return train trip to Anchorage.



Page 4 Alaska Railroad Coastal Classic