by Diana Haecker ~ July 30th, 2010
The crash of a C-17 military cargo plane on Wednesday evening near the Elmendorf Air Force base killed four crewmembers and also damaged railroad tracks, forcing closure of the railroad section.The main line and a second parallel track are damaged and plane debris of the Boeing aircraft is scattered on the tracks. Alaska Railroad officials do not know if the plane struck the tracks and what the damage exactly is until the military completed their investigation and is opening the area to railroad repair crews. According to railroad spokeswoman Stephenie Wheeler all freight train traffic north of Anchorage has been suspended. Since the track closure, five freight trains with coal or gravel are in waiting mode.
The daily passenger train Denali Star and cruise passenger trains are still operating. Passengers are transported with motorcoaches from the Anchorage Railroad Depot and board the train in Birchwood. Wheeler said that 500 to 600 passengers ride on the Denali Star daily, both northbound and southbound between Anchorage and Fairbanks.
The Hurricane Turn train running between Talkeetna and Hurricane from Thursday through Sunday is not impacted.