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Alaska Railroad to carry out LNG transportation demonstration

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LNG Industry,

The Alaska Railroad (ARRC) has announced that it will demonstrate its ability to safely transport LNG in intermodal LNG ISO containers from south-central to interior Alaska, US, during a month-long operational performance project in early Autumn 2016.

ARRC is the first railroad in the US to have been granted permission to haul LNG by rail. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) approved the railroad’s initial request in October 2015, in order to help meet growing energy needs in Alaska, especially in the interior. Since permission was granted, ARRC has coordinated with FRA and a number of other local, state and federal agencies to develop LNG as a potential line of business. This demonstration project is not a requirement of FRA, although ARRC must meet a number of operating conditions addressed whilst preparing for the project. FRA will review the results with ARRC to make sure that regulators are satisfied with the company’s ability to safely transport the LNG.

Two 40 ft ISO containers have been provided by Hitachi High-Tech AW Cryo Inc. They are able to carry up to 7023 gal. of LNG and comply with T75 regulatory standards that call for fortified tank walls and protective structures around the tank.

The ISO containers arrived in Anchorage on 11 September 2016 and will be cleaned, inspected and labelled before being used in training during the two weeks prior to the start of the demonstration project (27 September). Not only do train crews need to become familiar with the various characteristics of LNG and necessary handling procedures, but fire-fighters, emergency medical teams, police, etc., also need to become familiar with the containers. Alaska Railroad personnel from Safety, Environmental, Mechanical and Train Operations departments will explain the various characteristics of LNG, as well as the associated hazards and response methods. They will also point out challenges specific to the railroad industry, train operations and track infrastructure.

The containers will be driven 70 miles by truck to the Titan LNG facility near Port MacKenzie. Here, they will be filled with Alaska LNG, and will return to the Anchorage rail yard and loaded onto a rail-road flatcar. Then, they will be transported 350 miles north as part of ARRC’s northbound overnight freight train to Fairbanks. Once they have arrived, they will be transported the final 4.5 miles by flatbed truck to the Fairbanks Natural Gas storage facility. The empty ISO containers will then be reloaded onto a railroad flatcar and will travel back to Anchorage via the southbound freight train. The first twice-weekly test trip is scheduled to occur on 27 September 2016, with demonstration trips to continue throughout October.

Edited from press release by David Rowlands

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