Fire and ice both continue to threaten the Alaska Railroad Corporation's infrastructure and are forcing officials to modify schedules, according to a news release from the company sent Friday.

The McKinley Fire is burning on either side of the train tracks about 12 miles north of Willow. Denali Star and other passenger train services between Anchorage and Fairbanks continue to travel through the fire area but at reduced speeds.

ARRC says maintenance crews are on site to keep the track clear of debris and that slower train speeds will likely continue into next week.

On Friday afternoon, the railroad announced it had canceled the State Fair Trains scheduled to go between Anchorage and Palmer on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 24-25.

“We know that the Fair Trains are an annual tradition for many local families, and we are very disappointed to have to cancel,” said reservations and ticketing manager Tucker Remley.


Smoke from the McKinley Fire. Photo courtesy Alaska Railroad Corporation.

Fair trains scheduled over Labor Day weekend — Friday, Aug. 31 till Monday, Sept. 2 — are expected to operate as usual.

To the south, an ice jam on the Kenai Peninsula is preventing daily Coastal Classic and chartered passenger trains from traversing the last 30 miles of the rails to Seward.

The jam has caused the water level on the Snow River to rise. The ground nearby is saturated and softened, making the track bed unsafe for train traffic.


High water on Snow River. Photo courtesy Alaska Railroad Corporation.


High water on Snow River. Photo courtesy Alaska Railroad Corporation.

Passengers are instead boarding motor coaches to travel between Moose Pass and Seward. As water levels subside, ARRC says normal train operations could resume in the area by early next week.

Passengers with questions should call railroad reservation agents at 800-544-0552.

The railroad says safety remains its highest priority.

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