Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

CAMEO APPEARANCE – A White Pass train makes a rare – and the last – appearance in Whitehorse in 1998.

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

READY FOR DUTY – White Pass track equipment is seen last Sunday in Carcross.

Railway’s work won’t restore service to city

The White Pass & Yukon Route is planning to undertake some maintenance work on the rail right-of-way between Whitehorse and Carcross.

By Gord Fortin on December 21, 2018

The White Pass & Yukon Route is planning to undertake some maintenance work on the rail right-of-way between Whitehorse and Carcross.

Subsequent to the Star’s inquiries about the company’s plans, Jacqueline Taylor-Rose, the railway’s manager of marketing and product development, issued a statement Tuesday.

She said the company, owned by the Carnival Corp. and Survey Point Holdings, feels maintaining the line between Carcross and Whitehorse could be a future opportunity for tourism traffic.

The plan is to initially clear the brush and communication lines from the area. Taylor-Rose said this will take place over several years.

She emphasized that, contrary to some rumors, these plans do not mean White Pass is planning to offer passenger service between Carcross and Whitehorse at this time.

She explained the service could be offered, provided it was justified by consumer demand.

“While we have no immediate plans to provide passenger service between Carcross and Whitehorse,” she said, “we want to preserve that opportunity in the event traffic warrants restoring this service.”

She highlighted that the costs of getting the line passable are considerable. This would include replacing bridges, culverts and the tracks.

There have been no regularly-scheduled trains from Carcross and Skagway to Whitehorse since the fall of 1982, when several Yukon mines closed, eliminating most of the railway’s revenue. Until then, for instance, it had shipped out lead-zinc concentrates from the Faro mine which had been trucked to Whitehorse.

The prolonged inactivity has caused the rails to become obstructed by the aforementioned brush as well as five washouts.

According to an article on trn.trains.com, White Pass is preparing to expand for the 2019 season next April.

The railway had marked 10 coaches and three locomotives for refurbishing. The railway equipment was transported by barge from Skagway to Bellingham, Wash. It was the transported by truck to Sedro-Woolley, Wash. The work will be done by Hamilton Manufacturing.

According to the article, the coaches will be refitted with new siding made of steel.

They currently have wood siding. Coaches will also be subject to any structural repairs and upgrading to interiors needed.

The locomotives, as per the article, are General Electric shovel nose diesel models, dating back to 1954.

Two locomotives will get new wiring, NRE N-Force microprocessor control systems, new electric brakes, new air plumbing, a new control stand, a rebuilt truck, engine upgrades, a new battery charging system and improvements to the brake grid and blower.

The third is marked for new air brakes plumbing.

The 10 coaches and three locomotives are expected to be back in Skagway and ready to run by the end of April.

Ten separate coaches are being refurbished by Cobalt Construction in Whitehorse.

These coaches were delivered by truck from Carcross.

Comments (11)

Up 2 Down 0

Bev Henry on Jul 28, 2022 at 11:27 am

One of my most treasured childhood memories was lying in bed hearing the WP & Y steam whistle as the train rolled into town. To me, that was a call to all sorts of adventures.
We lived in the row of Airport DOT houses along the top of the escarpment. Every summer Mom took us on the train to Skagway, and down the coast to visit our grandparents in Rupert. These train rides were the high point of the year.
It would be a wonderful historic event to see this line restored from Carcross to Whitehorse. Likely the income from tourism & container shipping would easily cover the costs!

Up 4 Down 0

Matt on Mar 14, 2022 at 3:43 am

White pass . Pull your head out of your -----!! Fix the culverts! Replace the Railway trestles! Bring a railway brushing machine in! Leave the old Telegraph poles up and lines !! Get a small shuttle train going and freight ! Start hauling up container ship loads and lumber instead of transport trucks!!

Up 8 Down 0

Fred M. Cain on Mar 9, 2020 at 4:37 am

As it stands now, the current end of the line at Carcross offers tourists a nice ride of sufficient length. The downside of the Carcross terminal is that there really isn't much in Carcross to offer except a turn around. There are almost certainly more facilities in Whitehorse to cater to tourists than in Carcross.

A morning train leaving Skagway would allow tourists to spend an afternoon and evening in Whitehorse and following a stay in a nice Whitehorse hotel, they could return to their ship the next day.

Surely the powers that be at Carnival have thought of this.

Fred M. Cain,
Topeka, IN

Up 9 Down 17

Half Baked on Dec 27, 2018 at 8:27 am

Have you ever seen the White Pass................on weed?
Canna-tourism could fund reclamation on the track...I'll just leave that here.

Up 25 Down 8

Josey Wales on Dec 23, 2018 at 8:40 am

I remember that train here in town well.
Nice touch on the black and white photo, makes the geezer effect more authentic.
Despite knowing it was long ago 1998, feels some days like a few months back.
When I reflect upon what our town once was, like in the era of said photo,
to the degradation of today?
The geezer effect? In a dark way...makes me glad I am old and getting the hell outta this failed experiment.

Thanks I suppose for all of those that have and do...sit on your hands living in your world of blissful willful ignorance.

Up 33 Down 2

Brian on Dec 23, 2018 at 8:22 am

The Railway should be utilized for bringing in 20 ft shipping containers of supplies. Instead of trucking all the way from Vancouver and beyond. Barge it up, rail it in.
Seems simple, the Right of Way exists, the tracks need improvements, but this is achievable goals. Lumber cars can be unloaded as they pass Kilrich, it just makes sense. Cut the Carbon footprint on these new "Green" homes.

Up 23 Down 2

Dave on Dec 23, 2018 at 3:34 am

As a child I remember having to stop on the highway at McCrae sometimes when the train was passing through, and also seeing the trains stopped by the White Pass Depot on Main Street. My folks took the train from Whitehorse to Skagway and then the ferry on down to Juneau for their honeymoon back in the day long before the current highway existed. It was the good old days before everything in the Yukon gradually became government centric and it was definitely better times back then.

Up 30 Down 5

Yukoner on Dec 22, 2018 at 5:51 pm

THIS is what our gov't should be putting money towards. Restore passenger service on this railway and bolster tourism with Whitehorse as the direct gateway to the White Pass routes and beyond.

Up 30 Down 4

Rural Resident on Dec 22, 2018 at 2:44 pm

This company has an impressive business model. It likely will not return to Whitehorse until this service can be profitable.
It would be nice to see an eventual return to Whitehorse and an extension to the Carmacks area for the mining industry.

The company is removing the old communication lines which can be hazardous to wildlife which is nice.

Up 16 Down 19

PedroFerrero on Dec 21, 2018 at 10:12 pm

Redirect a healthy quota of those millions being shunted into the Salvation Army Centre of Hope and refurbish and upgrade those White Pass carriages and rail lines. Hey presto, the Temperance Wagon will be boarding all passengers on the new and improved KumBaYah line for all opioid addicts and alcoholics. Full steam ahead and rattle that tambourine to keep all errant wildlife off the tracks.

Up 23 Down 4

Daniel Dao on Dec 21, 2018 at 9:55 pm

Mountain biking and train rides!!! Yayyy!!! Whitehorse <--->Carcross. **CHOOCHOO!!

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