Rare mileage on the Alaska Railroad – The Palmer & Airport Branches

Most of the places we’ve checked out thus far on the Alaska Railroad are part of regular routes that countless passengers have traveled over. Today, however, we’re going to take a look at two of the railroad’s branches – the Palmer branch and the Anchorage Airport branch. Both routes are occasionally used for passenger service, but are not in regular scheduled service. The Alaska Railroad operates a fair train every year for the Alaska State Fair, which travels over the Palmer branch and to South Palmer station. Besides the fair and other special events, it is mostly freight that sees this branch. Beyond the branch’s useable track lies the town of Palmer, for which the branch was named. Palmer’s depot still stands, and is used as a community center. Sitting outside is a restored coal locomotive.

 
  
  
 
 
  
 
  
   

Photos around Anchorage and on the Palmer Branch

The Anchorage Airport branch likely sees more passengers than the Palmer Branch, but it is still not a regularly scheduled route on the railroad. Cruise ship lines with chartered trains are usually the only patrons of the branch, leaving the depot there fairly quiet. If you have money to burn, the depot is available to rent, however.

  

Photos on the Airport Branch. With its high-level platforms, this is the most “Metro-North looking” part of the entire Alaska Railroad.

Thanks to my camera, you can ride both branches from your own home. Starting off at the Anchorage International Airport, we pass the Anchorage depot before heading onto the Palmer Branch, finishing just beyond the South Palmer / fairgrounds station.

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Our second video for the day shows another hidden part of the Alaska Railroad, one that passengers never see. Reversing out of Anchorage’s depot, we head into Anchorage yard just after sunrise.

Next week we’ll check out yet another part of the railroad never seen by passengers, as we go behind the scenes and take a shop tour.

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Taking Metro-North to Westchester airport

Maybe you’re looking to get away from the city a bit… so you look for some cheap flights online. And surprise! You see something at Westchester airport (HPN). Last year I noticed just that. I would have assumed a flight from a bigger airport would be cheaper, but heading to Florida from Westchester airport was actually about $30 cheaper. The problem was then, how do I get to the airport? Is taking public transportation difficult?

The answer is no, it is not difficult to get to the airport. Unfortunately it is a little harder than it once was. There used to be a bus that went directly from White Plains train station to the airport, but in February 2010 this bus was cancelled. You may still see information about this bus, it was called Airlink. The train station still stocked Airlink brochures, and nobody has updated the airport’s website. This bus does not run any more! But that doesn’t mean you can’t get to the airport from the train station!

What it does mean is you will have to walk across the street to get an alternate bus. Right across from the train station is the White Plains bus center, and from there you can board a bus which will take you right to the airport. You will need to have exact change in quarters ($2.25), or a MetroCard. If you’d prefer the MetroCard route you can purchase them from Waxman’s News in the lower level of the train station.

Sometimes there are express buses, and other times you may need to make a transfer. You can use the online trip planner to see what bus you need to take for your date and time. For the origin put Railroad Station: White Plains Railroad Station and for the destination Airport: Westchester County Airport.

Entering your date and time should be self explanatory. Once you’ve done that, click Get Trip Plan, and it will list the bus or buses you will need to take, how long it will take, and what the fare will be.

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