Tough times for the Alaska Railroad

Times sure have been tough for the Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) since 2008. Annual volume has plummeted 44 percent — primarily because of weak bulk petroleum and coal traffic — net income has plunged by nearly two-thirds and profits not only have dried up, but morphed into a net loss.

As a result, the railroad recently eliminated 49 positions, representing 8 percent of its year-round workforce. ARRC also reduced train operations between Fairbanks and Anchorage from seven days to five days per week, and prepared to divest some assets that support export coal business.

But it isn’t all gloom and doom in Northern Exposure-land: passenger counts are projected to increase 5 percent this year after rising 4 percent in 2015. Since 2010, ARRC’s passenger volume has jumped 22 percent, mostly due to local demand and tourism.

I share a bit more about the railroad’s financial woes and passenger business woo-hoos in this news article I wrote for our March issue. If you have any stories or thoughts about ARRC’s hard times of late, please comment away below.

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