On The Grid: Talk Of New Railroad Line Linking Alaska To Lower 48

  Proposed New Railroad Line to Alberta from Fairbanks-North Pole. Finally. A proposed railroad, funded by private investors, has the ...

 
Proposed New Railroad Line to Alberta from Fairbanks-North Pole.


Finally. A proposed railroad, funded by private investors, has the potential of linking the state of Alaska through Canada to railroads in the Lower 48. It would be a huge step to normalizing freight transportation to Alaska, which is now limited to cross-Canada trucks, cross-Gulf of Alaska boats, and smaller shipments by air. Many people are surprised that you can't take a train to Alaska from the rest of the United States or Canada at this time.

The railroad line is called A2A (the "Alaska to Alberta Railway.") It would start in the Fairbanks area, and head down to Delta Junction, then off across Alaska passing by the Yukon, Northwest Territories, British Columbia and off into Alberta, Canada. From there, you'd take other linkages to the rest of the North American continent.

The Alaska Railroad Corporation signed a master agreement with the A2A company last year.  The line is 2,400 km (1,491 miles) long, and would technically start at the Alaska Railroad's  "Delta Junction Railhead" and end up at Fort McMurray.

For comparison purposes, the Iditarod Sled Dog Trail is about 1,000 miles long. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is 800 miles long. And the Alcan Highway (which is difficult to pin down in total length, due to road construction changes over the years) is almost exactly in the ballpark of this proposed new railway: the ALCAN is also around 1,400 miles long.

Mead Treadwell, former Lt. Governor of Alaska, has been promoting the project, which says he hopes to finish permitting and begin within the next three years.

In practical terms, at the current time,  crossing Canada to get into Alaska by almost any means is severely restricted due to the coronavirus.

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