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Alaska Railroad prepares to roll out on new season after a year of big losses

Published: Apr. 17, 2021 at 6:06 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -The Alaska Railroad has a lot of optimism as it rolls into a new tourist season.

“We’re really hopeful about this summer,” said Alaska Railroad Spokesman Tim Sullivan.

522,000 people rode the Alaska Railroad in 2019.

“2020 that number dropped to 32,000. A 94% reduction,” Sullivan said which is blamed on the pandemic.

32,000 people rode the Alaska Railroad last year, as the company suffered a net loss close to $8 million.

“We were able to weather that with reserves that we had and maintain the staff that we had,” Sullivan said. “Because it’s really important for continuity with the railroad to maintain the people we have.”

The railroad also moved less freight around the state last year. A 26% reduction, again, blamed on the pandemic. Still, the Alaska Railroad expects a busier season.

“We are on the bucket list of a lot of people. You see all the time when people say they’re coming to Alaska, one of the things they want to do is be on the Alaska Railroad,” said Sullivan. “The fact we’re going to be here for them, we’re going to be going to Seward, we’re going to Denali, we’re going to be going to Talkeetna and Fairbanks.”

The Alaska Railroad is counting on more passengers along for the ride.

Its summer season starts on June First. That’s a couple of weeks later than normal. Blame it on no cruise ships.

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