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Alaska Railroad gears up to get passenger service back on track

Alaska Railroad Janitorial Manager, Christopher Snyder spraying a 24-hour disinfectant called...
Alaska Railroad Janitorial Manager, Christopher Snyder spraying a 24-hour disinfectant called SAO-24 inside the passenger rail cars. (KTUU)
Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 10:15 AM AKDT
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It's being called the year of the locals. At least that's what the Alaska Railroad is hoping when it comes to passengers filling up its rail cars, but before customers get on board, germs need to come off. Due to health mandates and restrictions, the Alaska Railroad is doing its part to keep customers and staff safe.

Instead of its usual cleaning routine, the company shifted to misters using a 24-hour disinfectant called Stabilized Aqueous O-Zone or ASO-24 to clean its passenger cars. It's also EPA friendly and green certified.

"This is the applicant that the majority of the world is using right now. The chemical kills the virus in a minute dwell time, so ultimately it's attaching itself to the surface a lot better if you would with wiping," said Christopher Snyder, Alaska Railroad Janitorial Manager.

The passenger cars are sprayed during trips, at night and in between changing stops. There's even an on board steward this year assigned to just cleaning.

"We've implemented cleaning procedures internally in the depot, greeting people before they move into the depot building, through the boarding process is going to be seamless and spaced out, social distancing will be very strongly enforced, full mask wear by our guest and ourselves when we're on outside on the property as well as inside the train," said VP of Marketing and Customer Service, Dale Wade.

Like many other tourism businesses across the state, the Alaska Railroad has been hit hard by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The hardest thing is uncertainty, knowing what the mandates are, who they apply to how we implement that throughout the Alaska Railroad system," said Wade.

It's reduced capacity on board by 50 percent and updated some of its trips.

"We've merged the Hurricane Turn, which normally runs from Talkeetna up to the Hurricane Bridge and back 4 days a week, we've canceled that and merged it onto the morning northbound train and southbound out of Fairbanks," added Wade.

Still, with a start date of July 1st., it's eager to welcome passengers not just from out of state, but locals too.

"It's a chance for everybody in Alaska to say hey let's go do what the tourists normally do," said Wade.

Face coverings will be required to enter depots, and while boarding and moving about trains; face coverings may be removed once seated in designated dining areas and while seated in assigned seats.

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