The Alaska Railroad says it will resume passenger service Friday, after a track washout at Skookum Creek near Portage earlier this week delayed trains for days.
In a Thursday night post on the railroad’s Facebook page, railroad officials say both the Seward-bound Coastal Classic Train and the Glacier Discovery Train with stops in Portage, Whittier, Spencer Glacier and Grandview will once more be on time.
“The Alaska Railroad is pleased to confirm that all passenger trains will be traveling their regularly scheduled routes tomorrow, Friday June 20th,” railroad officials wrote.
According to a statement earlier Thursday, passengers on the two routes have had varying options this week.
"Beginning Tuesday through today, Coastal Classic train passengers have been offered alternate motorcoach transportation between Anchorage and Seward, while Glacier Discovery train passengers have experienced a route shortened to stop at Whittier, or the option to cancel or reschedule travel to the Spencer or Grandview whistle stops."
Railroad spokesperson Stephenie Wheeler says imagery from the 80-foot breach at Skookum Creek gives a sense of the problem repair crews have faced.
"It just shows how much water there was, and how much of a challenge it was," Wheeler said.
"We've had heavy equipment out there -- we've had bulldozers, we've had a locomotive crane, we've had construction equipment," Wheeler said. "We've had dozens of people out there, working around the clock to repair the track."
According to Wheeler, repairing the track bed has also involved quickly finding nearby materials to replace those lost in the washout, which left the track unsupported by rip-rap, a mix of rocks and gravel.
"They were able to excavate some materials around the Portage area, and they were able to pick up some rip-rap from around the track," Wheeler said.
While railroad officials first hoped to resume service by Thursday, continuing high water had delayed repairs.