Trip Report: Riding the Mighty Alaska Railroad from Fairbanks to Anchorage (Gold Star)

In Alaska Travelgram by scott

Alaska Railroad Onboard Services Supervisor Daniel Fretwell welcomes Bart Parker aboard in Fairbanks.

SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT Bart Parker rode on the Mighty Alaska Railroad between Fairbanks and Anchorage in “Gold Star” class. Here is his report.

Welcome: “Ladies and Gentleman, Good Morning! Welcome aboard the Alaska Railroad! We ARE glad you’re here!!” In all of my travels & journeys, never has a simple welcome message set a truer tone for the entire trip. From the moment we boarded in Fairbanks, until we departed in Anchorage, ALL of the staff let us know how much they appreciated us traveling with them!

“Gold Star” riders enjoy the full-dome cars on the upper deck. Open-air observation deck is at the far end.

Safety/Security: From gently and pleasantly reminding all riders of the Federal mask wearing requirement, to providing a safety briefing at EACH scheduled stop, I knew our safety & security were a top priority of the crew. Along the way, there were numerous announcements about arrival times, departures and points of interest. We were informed, educated and entertained throughout the day.

Bartender Frederick Becker VI preps a Bloody Mary while Onboard Supervisor Andrew Lyon offers commentary.

Crew: Our Onboard Supervisors: Andrew Lyon and Daniel Fretwell ensured our travel experience was nothing but top-notch! Did you know that Daniel who is in his 15th year with the AKRR, has spent the last 10 years working with high school students from King Technical High School enrolled in the Tour Guide program? (sadly, due to Covid-19, no high school tour guides this Summer.) And what 12 hour journey would be complete without the lively and jovial banter of Bartender Frederick C. Becker VI ?!

Meals/Drinks: For those traveling in the Gold Star Service from Fairbanks to Anchorage (or Anchorage to Fairbanks), you will enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, along with 2 alcoholic drinks and unlimited coffee, soda, water, etc, all included in your fare. (menus included: meals one side, drinks on the other.). If you take away nothing else from this review, please remember two words: Pot Roast! I have been riding the Mighty Alaska Railroad for nearly a decade, and like a great wine, the pot roast only improves every year!

If you have not journeyed on the Mighty Alaska Railroad before, or it’s been many years since your last ride, I encourage you to invest the time this Summer in one of the best-kept secrets in Alaska! All aboard for an excellent adventure with an outstanding crew! You’ll be glad you did!

From the open observation deck: a long view from the scary Hurricane Bridge!

–Bart Parker

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