An Alaska Railroad passenger train headed north was forced to turn around at Talkeetna Saturday morning, after extensive flooding along roughly three miles of nearby track caused by ice jams on the Susitna River.

“Water is over the rail for approximately two miles and there are potential washouts in several locations from ice overflow between [railroad] mileposts 247 and 250,” railroad officials wrote. “[Railroad] personnel are continuing to assess damages in the area.”

Alaska Railroad spokesman Tim Sullivan Jr. said the extent of Saturday’s flooding north of Talkeetna, a typical seasonal event in the area, “surprised us a little.” Track crews discovered the damage before a passenger train on the Aurora line headed north reached the scene; that train transferred its passengers to motor coaches, which carried them north from Talkeetna.

“We keep an eye out in that area all the time,” Sullivan said. “Things just started moving faster than we expected this morning.”

The railroad also sees seasonal flooding along tracks near Seward, Sullivan said, because "we run near the water and this occurs."

“It’s been an issue in that area for as long as we’ve had tracks in that area -- we’re right next to the Susitna River,” Sullivan said. “It’s more than we usually see in that area; it’s going to take us a while to get cleaned up, particularly because of the scouring and the ice coming up through there.”

The Aurora train’s return run on Sunday has been canceled, along with a pair of northbound and southbound freight trains scheduled to run that evening. 

As of Monday morning, Sullivan said there is still around six to eight inches of ice on the tracks which are being cleared loaders and heavy equipment. 

The tracks are expected to cleared in time for Wednesday' scheduled passenger service, Sullivan said. 

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