Alaska Railroad pushes back start of summer passenger service to July

The Alaska Railroad on Friday announced that it is delaying the start of summer passenger service to July in response to the new coronavirus pandemic.

• Daily scheduled service for the Coastal Classic Train, which runs an Anchorage-Seward route and carried more passengers than any other Alaska Railroad train last year, begins July 1.

• Northbound service on the Denali Star Train, which runs from Anchorage to Fairbanks with stops in Mat-Su and at Denali National Park and Preserve, begins July 1. Daily service on the Denali route in both directions begins July 2.

• The Glacier Discovery Train, which runs from Anchorage to Portage, Whittier, Spencer and Grandview, begins daily scheduled service July 3.

• The Hurricane Turn Train, which runs from Talkeetna to the Hurricane flagstop area about 60 miles north, will operate May 7 and June 4 under social distancing requirements ordered by the state and local governments. Thursday-Monday summer service on that route starts July 2.

• Service on the Aurora Winter Train, which brings travelers from Anchorage to Fairbanks, has been suspended through the rest of the winter season.

In previous years, summer passenger service has started in May. The railroad said in a recently released annual report that its 2019 passenger ridership was 522,101.


“Delaying the start of our summer season wasn’t a decision we took lightly, but we believe it to be in the best interest of our passengers, crew, and the communities we serve," Bill O’Leary, railroad president and CEO, said in a prepared statement Friday.

The changes to passenger service schedules won’t affect freight service, the railroad said. Those with bookings on suspended trains will receive refunds and a 24-hour cancellation policy is in place for customers this summer, according to the railroad, which “will continue to regularly evaluate passenger service during the COVID-19 pandemic.”