To the editor: After two weeks spent enjoying the fun activities and warm hospitality of Fairbanks, our guests left with hopes for a pleasure-filled train ride to Anchorage. Instead, they got to the station to be told that there would be no cafe or dining service available on the 12-hour journey. Passengers were each handed one small bottle of water and a few snack items left over from previous journeys. They did not have the means or the time to go out to get some food.
Once they were on board the train, a hot water dispenser was set up behind a counter, but no staff stayed around to dispense the water, and when one passenger finally dared to go behind the counter to get water for herself and others, she was spotted and reprimanded repeatedly in person and over the intercom.
The governor’s announcement that restaurants were to close occurred 15 hours before this train trip began, and the closures did not take effect until nine hours into the journey. Couldn’t the Alaska Railroad have found some sandwiches in Fairbanks to give out to the passengers on this 12-hour journey? The grocery stores are not completely out of bread and lunchmeats, or a small business could have benefited by selling the railroad what was needed.
Fortunately, our guests did not learn of any serious consequences to any passengers with diabetes or similar conditions for whom going without food for more than 12 hours is dangerous. And happily the sun was shining, Denali was out in all its glory, and moose and eagles were seen from the train, and our guests were able to smile about their day, though perhaps not all of the passengers were. The railroad, like so many businesses, is having to curtail services and lose money, but we hear of generous acts on the part of many smaller businesses. I wish I had heard the same about the Alaska Railroad.