An Alaskan train that transports tourists is expected to resume operations Friday after a derailment that occurred on Wednesday. The rail company carries hundreds of thousands of visitors along the historic route of the Klondike Gold Rush each year. According to officials, the train derailment left 23 tourists with minor injuries.
Four passenger rail cars and two vintage locomotives were involved in the wreck just short of the border between the United States and Canada. The cars left the track as the train arrived to the White Pass Summit in Alaska. One of the rail cars partially fell into a small lake with two passengers being dislodged into the water.
The National Transportation Safety Board was notified of the debacle but it was not clear right away if rail safety personnel would inspect the derailment. According to the Alaska Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, the medical workers that flocked to the scene soon after the crash, outnumbered the injured. Most of the hurt passengers had suffered from minor scratches and bruises.
Initially, officials reported that there were only nine injuries, but Dall Memorial Clinic’s executive director mentioned to The Associated Press that four railroad employees and 19 passengers were treated and discharged at the Skagway facility in Alaska. Power was eventually restored to the train, and it transported the tourists and injured employees back to Skagway, which is around 100 miles northwest of Juneau. The four rail cars involved in the derailment were also removed from the site.
The train is a prominent tourist attraction that takes passengers on a 40-mile roundtrip tour in three hours. When it arrives at White Pass Summit, it climbs up to 2,865 feet before turning around and heading back. The trip offers tourists the kind of view they might expect during a trip to Alaska: glaciers, mountains, waterfalls and even brief glances of the trails that were originally used by miners trying to make money during the 1898 gold rush.
Up to seven train trips were called off following the derailment of the tourist train in Alaska, however, the rail company now plans to resume rail traffic. Following the crash, the railway said it would temporarily suspend operations in an effort to allow an investigation to proceed and would be available to run the trains again once it could be assured of passenger safety. The railroad president mentioned that all administrative reporting requirements have now been accomplished in order to continue the tours.
The White Pass railway also transports hikers off of the Chilkoot Trail, which is located between Dyea and Bennett Lake in British Columbia. However, due to the halted train service on Wednesday, the hikers had to rely on rail motor cars for transportation.
The vintage train consisted of 15 passenger rail cars and two locomotives. During the time of the derailment, approximately 360 tourists and crew were on the train in Alaska which is said to resume operations on Friday. Although the exact cause of the crash has not yet been determined, the railway assured potential travelers that safety is their number one concern.
By: Laura “Addi” Simmons
New Jersey Herald