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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Alaska Railroad marks 30 years as state-owned enterprise


Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) on Monday reached the 30th anniversary of its ownership transfer from the federal government to Alaska.

On Jan. 5, 1985, the railroad became property of the state during transfer ceremonies held in Nenana and Seward. In 1984, then-Gov. Bill Sheffield negotiated an ownership transfer with the federal government and signed legislation that established a quasi-public railroad corporation and a seven-member board. About the time of the transfer, Frank Turpin became the first president and chief executive officer to lead ARRC as a state-owned enterprise.

Following the transfer, the railroad focused on correcting safety deficiencies identified in the Alaska Railroad Transfer Act. ARRC eliminated aging structures and upgraded facilities and equipment systemwide. The railroad also negotiated with seven labor unions to establish continuity in pay and benefits among its represented workforce. Today, about three-fourths of ARRC's 600-plus employees are represented by five unions.

In operation since 1923, ARRC is a freight and passenger railroad that links ports and communities to major metropolitan centers in the state, such as Anchorage and Fairbanks. The railroad operates 467 miles of mainlines, 54 miles of branch lines, and 135 miles of yard and siding track.

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