Alaska Railroad builds distinctive ‘connaboose’ for gravel trains

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This exterior shot shows the container and flatcar mated to become the "connaboose."
Alaska Railroad
ANCHORAGE, Alaska – The Alaska Railroad has constructed what it calls a “connaboose” for use on gravel trains between Anchorage and Palmer this spring and summer. The term comes from the car’s construction using an intermodal container and in part from its function as a caboose.

The railroad built the car after a loop track was taken out of service. About a year ago, the railroad had to remove the Palmer loop track from service because it was no longer being used or maintained by the two companies that had jointly built it for looping and loading their aggregate trains. The railroad had also used it to loop Anchorage Sand & Gravel 86-car gravel trains that load at that company's facility along the Palmer Branch.

Without the loop track gravel trains had to back up along the branch with a trainman hanging from the side of a hopper car at the rear of the train and communicating with the locomotives on a portable radio.
An interior view.
Alaska Railroad
To address safety concerns, the railroad considered several options, including purchasing a caboose. Instead, a more cost-effective solution was the in-house design of a flatcar equipped with a shelter made from an intermodal container.

Railroad mechanics outfitted the car with LED solar-powered back up lights, seats, hand holds, emergency air valves on each end, and hand holds and sill steps.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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  • June 02, 2015
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