Alaska Railroad Answers

Some of the most common questions that we receive at Alaska Tour & Travel are about the Alaska Railroad.  It is amazing how many people believe that the Alaska Railroad runs through Canada all the way to the lower 48 States.

The history of the Alaska Railroad  involves many ownership changes. The Alaska Railroad was started in Seward in 1903 under the name of Alaska Central Railroad.  They completed 51 miles of track before going bankrupt in 1907.  In 1909, the Alaska Northern Railroad Company purchased the railroad and completed 21 more miles of track.  In 1914, the federal government purchased the line with the intent of creating a direct route between Seward and the town of Fairbanks in the interior of Alaska.  President Harding drove the final spike that completed the railroad in 1923.  In 1985, the State of Alaska purchased the railroad from the Federal Government.

The railroad is a valuable link between the interior of Alaska and the ice free ports of Seward and Whittier.  The railroad continues to operate both freight and passenger services.  The passenger service offers not only transportation from point A to point B but has the benefit of incredible Alaskan scenery along the way. Alaska Tour & Travel offers many rail vacation packages that feature travel on the Alaska Railroad.

Below are some of the questions that we have fielded over time in regards to the Alaska Railroad.  Be sure to visit our Answers section on our website for more information on the Alaska Railroad or to see answers to other common questions!

Q: I have booked a cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage and I would like to return to Vancouver via your famous Alaska Rail.  Please let me know the schedule and fares for travel between Anchorage and Vancouver.

A: The Alaska Railroad service is only operated in Alaska.  There is train service daily between Anchorage and Seward and between Anchorage and Fairbanks during the summer months. The Alaska Railroad does not offer any other service to include your requested route between Vancouver and Alaska.  The best option for traveling back to Vancouver would be by air.  I would recommend that you stay an additional few days after your cruise to take the Alaska Railroad to Denali.  It is a nice addition to your week long cruise to Alaska.  The interior of Alaska is much different than your cruise and offers even more chances to see our magnificent beauty as well as some of our big game wildlife.  We offer some great post-cruise vacation packages to explore more of Alaska.

Q: We would like to travel by train from Fairbanks to Anchorage, but spend a full day in Denali National Park. Can we buy one Fairbanks to Anchorage ticket, or do we need to buy Fairbanks-Denali, then Denali-Anchorage?

A: If you are taking the train on two different days you would buy two separate tickets, one for each segment. If you travel on Adventure Class then the price is the same regardless of how you purchase the ticket. The fare for Gold Star service is a bit higher when you purchase the individual travel segments.

Q: Where does the train travel begin to Alaska and how much does it cost?

A: There is no train available for travel to Alaska. The Alaska Railroad only operates within South-central and Interior Alaska. Once in Alaska you can board the train in Anchorage, Whittier, Seward, Talkeetna, Denali and Fairbanks. The best way to travel to Alaska is via an Alaskan cruise.

Q: Do you have one day excursions on the train?

A: The Alaska Railroad does offer a Grandview Day Tour from Anchorage.  This 9 hour scenic train ride allows you to see the beauty of the Turnagain Arm and the splendor of Spencer Glacier and Bartlett Glaciers.  Other day trip options from Anchorage include trips to either Seward or Talkeetna with the Alaska Railroad. The Seward trip could be combined with a day cruise through the Kenai Fjords National Park for glacier and wildlife viewing. This trip departs Anchorage at 6:30am and returns about 10:30pm. It is a great and scenic trip, but a long day. Talkeetna offers a shorter day trip. We recommend combining this rail excursion with a McKinley Experience flightseeing tour. The train departs Anchorage about 8:15am and arrives back about 8:00pm.  When taking a day excursion, we recommend taking the Alaska Railroad one way, and the Alaska Park Connection Motorcoach the either.


Q: I am traveling to Alaska in March 2018. Will I be able to travel on the train from Seward to Fairbanks?

A: The train from Seward to Anchorage does not begin running until May. During the winter months, the train travels northbound from Anchorage to Fairbanks on Saturdays and then southbound from Fairbanks to Anchorage on Sundays.


  1. RL FREY
    July 7th, 2013 | 9:57 am

    We recently took the Alaska railroad from Seward to Anchorage after a Vancouver – Seward cruise.
    We were attracted to the option because of the scenic views and purchased the tickets through Alaska Tour and Travel. Alaska Tour and Travel sends you a reservation but not tickets.
    The tickets are obtained at the railroad station before boarding. It appears that they are given out in an order in which you redeem the reservation confirmation. In our case, row 7.
    My husband enjoys photography as a hobby. We requested a vacant row 5 seating from Danny the cabin attendant. He responded that we had to wait until the train moved. I mentioned that others may take the seat which he replied only he had that responsibility.
    That comment proved false as predicted two young ladies took 4 seats (2 seats on each sides) and proceeded to sleep most of the trip. This was reported to Mathew who reported to John the supervisor. The supervisor never came to discuss with us, but via Mathew said he could not intervene for one customer over an other.
    Worth noting is that they do not check your tickets to make sure you are in the correct seat.
    The other only open rows were the two obstructed in the back and the row directly in front of the beverage counter with people traffic and loud conversations.
    Positives – the views are fabulous.
    Negative – limited seating in the dinning below thus making the wait long for those who do not know to get first seating.

  2. Julie
    September 10th, 2016 | 6:17 pm

    I have flown on a plane several times but only once did I take a train. It was in Alaska but through a cruise line. So they took care of everything. How does baggage work? Generally where do you drop it off and how do you claim them? Is there a baggage claim area?

  3. September 13th, 2016 | 6:28 am

    When traveling on the Alaska Railroad your luggage is checked much like a commercial flight. Upon your arrival at your destination you will claim your luggage in the depot. The exception is in Denali where you can have it tagged to go directly to some of the larger lodges.

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