Thursday, October 20, 2016

Alaska Railroad's Denali Express, A Chase, Summer 2009

During the Summer of 2009 the Alaska Railroad ran the DEX (Denali Express) for the cruise ship lines between mid-May and mid-September between Whittier and Denali National Park, both north and southbound on Saturdays and again on Mondays. That took two train sets. The northbound set was put away at the end of the day in Fairbanks. The southbound run in Anchorage.

I caught a southbound DEX the afternoon of August 22, 2009 at Wasilla and followed it south to Whittier. It had left Fairbanks very early to pick up its cruise line passengers at Denali at 7:45 a.m. and would bring them to a cruise ship at Whittier. As my photographs show, there is much beautiful scenery for them to see as they ride in luxury.

The train consisted of SD70MAC 4007, a Holland America Tours car, and five Princess Tours cars. The cars are self contained and required no electricity from 4007.

I first photographed the DEX just south of the Wasilla depot at 2:25 p.m.  (above two photos)

I then hurried down to Anchorage and caught the train just before the depot.  (next two photos)

Here the DEX is passing Potter Bird Sanctuary (foreground) just south of Anchorage at 4:07 p.m. Above the train is the Turnagain Arm of Cooks Inlet.

And again south of Potter at 4:25 p.m.

At 7:00 p.m. the DEX is in Whittier, discharging its passengers.  The crew has run the locomotive around its train so it can head back through the tunnel to Portage. There are no turning facilities at Whitter. 

At 9:11 p.m. it is back at Portage using the wye so it can pull the train back to Ancorage Yard cab first. In the foreground the higher track in the mainline and the lower a siding. A crewman is on the ground throwing switches.

The crew continues to wye the locomotive. I didn't chase the DEX north to Anchorage. I waited and chased the Coastal Classic north.

I hope you enjoyed my photographs of the DEX and the Alaska scenery. Your comments and corrections are quite welcome.