Alaska rail train Qs

Old Apr 29, 17, 8:44 am
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Alaska rail train Qs

I booked the fairbanks to anchorage train for tomorrow (Sunday Apr 30). Oddly with all the flying I do, I never took a train in the usa. Is there anything I need to be aware of?
How's check in? Is there any security? I assume not.
And I assume that the ride would be quite scenic. Also it seems that the train is their adventure class. Is that open seating or should I get a bit early to the station to get a window seat? I dont know if you can pre reserve a seat.


Thanks!
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Old Apr 29, 17, 10:53 am
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Originally Posted by jason8612 View Post
I booked the fairbanks to anchorage train for tomorrow (Sunday Apr 30). Oddly with all the flying I do, I never took a train in the usa. Is there anything I need to be aware of?
How's check in? Is there any security? I assume not.
And I assume that the ride would be quite scenic. Also it seems that the train is their adventure class. Is that open seating or should I get a bit early to the station to get a window seat? I dont know if you can pre reserve a seat.


Thanks!
I don't think there's reserved seating on the Aurora winter train, and I'd be shocked if it was so full that you needed to be there too early to get a window. I haven't taken it in years, but it's a fun ride, especially in the "flag stop" zone between Healy and Talkeetna (where homesteaders and other off-the-grid people walk up to the tracks and flag down the train, or where those returning get off in the middle of nowhere.)

It's not as scenic as you might imagine, although there certainly very scenic stretches, particularly in the stretch between Healy and Hurricane Gulch, e.g.



Look here and maybe download the information for a mile-by-mile narrative on the route - http://www.alaskarails.org/ARR-mileposts.html
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Old Apr 29, 17, 12:39 pm
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Nice, Thanks!
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Old Apr 30, 17, 10:46 pm
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OK. Did the train today. it was a very fun adventure.
Arriving to the fairbanks depot was quick from the hotel and there was only 12 of us on the train ride. the departure was at 8:30 and I could of arrived 10min before and would of been fine. Got a window seat. the first hr or so wasn't anything special. bur when we started getting to Healy, the landscape changed and from then on out till about 2hrs from anchorage, there were tons of photo ops. The staff were super friendly and the food on-board was good.
overall it was a great trip, but she did say this train was probably the emptiest she has seen in a long time. usually it is full including in the summer.
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Old May 1, 17, 8:30 am
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Originally Posted by jason8612 View Post
OK. Did the train today. it was a very fun adventure.
Arriving to the fairbanks depot was quick from the hotel and there was only 12 of us on the train ride. the departure was at 8:30 and I could of arrived 10min before and would of been fine. Got a window seat. the first hr or so wasn't anything special. bur when we started getting to Healy, the landscape changed and from then on out till about 2hrs from anchorage, there were tons of photo ops. The staff were super friendly and the food on-board was good.
overall it was a great trip, but she did say this train was probably the emptiest she has seen in a long time. usually it is full including in the summer.
Glad it went well. Do you have any photos you can post?
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Old May 1, 17, 2:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
Glad it went well. Do you have any photos you can post?
Plenty of photos but I'll have to post them once I get back home and have access to my desktop
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Old May 7, 17, 4:41 pm
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Originally Posted by jason8612 View Post
Plenty of photos but I'll have to post them once I get back home and have access to my desktop
Looking forward to them! Always love a good Alaska Railroad photo album.

You mentioned having never ridden the train in the US before. Just so you know, the Alaska Railroad is a completely different experience than Amtrak in the Lower 48. The ARR is owned by the State of Alaska and while it (especially the winter train) does provide functional transportation, it is really focused on the leisure/tourism market. Amtrak is a product of the federal government and is mostly supposed to be functional transportation, and while many Amtrak routes offer spectacular scenery, that's mostly incidental to their mandate.

The ARR operates much more like a "land cruise," while travel on Amtrak ranges from practical (at best) long-distance travel (with a comfortable, but not in the least upmarket) sleeper class product to the purely utilitarian corridor/commuter services (of which there are many out of Chicago and are basically a slightly more comfortable version of Metra).

The ARR focuses on a positive passenger experience, since the summer tourism season provides nearly all of their passenger revenue and a good chunk of their total annual revenue, and staff are hired accordingly. In contrast, Amtrak has more than its share of unionized, surly people, even in the crafts that are very customer-facing (like dining/sleeper/coach attendants). Amtrak is much more like a land-based version of American Airlines, if that means anything.
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Old May 8, 17, 2:37 am
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A few images from the train ride










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