Avalanche Derails Alaska Railroad Train Along Turnagain Arm

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
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An Alaska Railroad freight train traveling northbound from Whittier recently encountered an avalanche at 0158, causing the derailment of two locomotives and the partial derailment of a third.

The two-person train crew was unharmed and safely evacuated from the lead locomotive before being transported back to Anchorage. The 3,144-foot-long train was carrying 6,091 tons of freight when it was stopped at rail milepost 71.5 on Turnagain Arm, according to a Jan. 17 release.

Railroad personnel were conducting safety and damage assessments for mitigation and operational planning in collaboration with the Alaska Department of Transportation, Alaska Railroad said.

Staff also worked to finalize plans to rerail the locomotives and continue the freight train’s movement. No other scheduled freight train service was impacted at the time of clean-up.

“The safety of our employees is our primary concern as we move forward,” said Clark Hopp, chief operating officer. “Recognizing this as a poignant reminder of the risk of railroading in Alaska, we are very thankful for a safe train crew.”