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White Pass & Yukon Route Operations


GTJ
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Some of the information relating to the operation of the White Pass & Yukon Route passenger trains is unclear, and I hope that someone with actual recent experience can clarify. I refer specifically to the regular passenger trains, and not the extra trains that go directly to the cruise ship dock.

 

It appears that not all of the regular passenger trains depart from the downtown Skagway passenger train station, and that some trains may instead depart from the company’s shops.

 

 

 

  • Which trains, if any, depart from the company shops in Skagway? The trains to Fraser? The trains to Carcross?

 

 

  • Do trains that depart from the company shops in Skagway return to the company shops? Or do these trains return to the downtown Skagway station?

 

 

  • Is a bus provided to transport passengers between the downtown Skagway station and the company shops? If so, is the advertised departure time the time that the connecting bus departs from the downtown Skagway station? Or is the advertised departure time the time that the train departs from the company shops?

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We have done the railway with Chilkoot twice:

 

 

  • this summer we rode the train to Frasier and the van back. We were picked up at the dock and taken to the edge of town where we boarded the train. On the return van ride we could have disembarked in town or at the ship.
  • in 2012 we rode the train to Frasier and then a van up to Emerald Lake and back down to Skagway. We met at the in town office and boarded the train nearby. On the return we could have disembarked in town or at the ship.

We've (and the 6 people accompanying us in 2012 and the 2 this summer) been very impressed with Chilkoot. On-line reservations are easy, on both our train rides the Chilkoot train car was the last on the train which made for great picture taking on the observation platform, and their van driver guides were informative and entertaining.

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We rode the train up to White Pass and back. The train we took departed from the dock and passed the station less than a mile away. On our way back the train stopped at the station for people who wanted to go downtown. The train then went to the dock. The only bus I’m aware of is a shuttle that runs from different downtown street corners to and from the ships. Cost is $2.00 each way per person. Did not stop at any company stores either way. Maybe someone else can enlighten us about company stores and buses.

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I'm sure you know the railway sells tickets for set routes, station to station, while companies sell excursions that have made agreements with the rail lines for other stops. While the "official" start/stop of the train's run is the station in town, companies make arrangements to move the cars down by the ships. We took the train back from the Yukon, most the people got off in town while a few stayed on for the 5 minute push to the docks. Almost positive nobody checked if you were from an excursion for the trip to the ship.

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What do you mean by company shops? In Skagway the train stops at the train station (depot) which is near tourist shops in town. For the convenience of ship tours for ships docking at the railroad dock the train pulls up alongside the ships for loading and unloading passengers.

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Some of the information relating to the operation of the White Pass & Yukon Route passenger trains is unclear, and I hope that someone with actual recent experience can clarify.
No experience but we are looking at https://skagwayshoretours.com/tour_locations/skagway-train/

If you don't want to book a Sunday or Monday, it looks really nice. Problem I'm having is when trying to book the train, my cart comes up with glassblowing or kayak tours! I sent them an email.

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Would it be better to purchase tickets for the train through the cruiseline or direct from the railway website? The celebrity decription said one way by train then another one a tour bus. I am not certain if they have a round trip on the train only as the tour desciption states 20 mile trip on the train. The white pass website says it is 40 miles round trip. Can you not do a round trip on the train when using the cruiseline excursion? I hope I am not being confusing but I am uncertain of the best way to handle this excursion. Thanks for any help.

 

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What do you mean by company shops? In Skagway the train stops at the train station (depot) which is near tourist shops in town. For the convenience of ship tours for ships docking at the railroad dock the train pulls up alongside the ships for loading and unloading passengers.

 

 

The WP&YRR train station sells train related souvenirs including histories of the construction and Klondike gold rush. I wonder if the OP has read something about a WP&YRR shop and doesn't realize that the shop is located in the station lobby.

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By company shops he means the maintenance and storage yard on the edge of town. It is a work shop area not a "buy" shop. The trains for Lake Bennett and Carcross leave from here as they leave town the earliest and as there is only a single track there is no passing for the trains.

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If you purchase through the ship, you board the train at the ship. I saw cruise passengers this summer who had walked from the ship to wander town and then found they had to walk back to the ship to board the train since that is how their tickets were purchased. There is another stop further from the main station as well, and that is where hikers board who are going to the Denver Caboose cabin, etc. We did that this summer and were provided bus transportation by the railroad the 6 or so blocks to the correct place to board. Even as a local, we found it difficult to get proper booking info from their website for this type of trip. Just call them. It’s much easier and you will get all your questions answered. They will be closing for the season in the next few days, if they haven’t already.

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The trains for Lake Bennett and Carcross leave from here as they leave town the earliest and as there is only a single track there is no passing for the trains.

 

So it is just the 7:30 a.m. train (the first train of the day from Skagway) that is destined for Carcross that departs which the company shops, but all the other regular non-cruise trains (destined for Fraser and for White Pass) depart from the downtown station. And that is because there are other movements, bringing trains from the company shops to the downtown station, around the same time as the Carcross train departure, for which the single track would not allow for the Carcross train to leave the downtown station, correct? Is there a bus that takes passengers from the downtown station to the company shops, to board the Carcross departure, or does everyone have to make their own way to the departure point? And on the way back, does the train from Carcross discharge passengers at the downtown station, or only at the company shops?

 

 

It is nice that the company posts an employee timetable on the website (!), but like most railroads today, its schedules are no longer published in the timetables (but are instead all operated as extras), and so it is difficult to tell the details of the actual train movements. As well, the website is written largely in narrative form, presumably for mass market appeal, so it is difficult to extract accurate operating information. It would be great were the railroad to post a "real" schedule somewhere on the website!

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By company shops he means the maintenance and storage yard on the edge of town. It is a work shop area not a "buy" shop. The trains for Lake Bennett and Carcross leave from here as they leave town the earliest and as there is only a single track there is no passing for the trains.
I believe after looking at the track on Google Earth that there are two sidings. This would mean that opposing trains would have a place to pass each other. Keep in mind that most train schedules are fairly precise. Looking at our ships excursion list, there are 4 different tours the same day on the White Pass and Yukon Route.
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The WP&YRR train station sells train related souvenirs including histories of the construction and Klondike gold rush. I wonder if the OP has read something about a WP&YRR shop and doesn't realize that the shop is located in the station lobby.

 

I have the pictorial history of the railroad, written in 1980 by Stan Cohen, but it is an historic perspective rather than a description of current operations (you may know that there was a significant change when the mine closed, and the railroad discontinued all operations; when revived six years later, the route was truncated, and no longer served Whitehorse, other than by connecting motorcoach). But as noted another poster, the company shops are located at milepost 2.3, and consist of facilities where the equipment is maintained and stored, and where there exists a station called "Shops." The downtown station building, where there exists a store where persons may "shop" for various tourist-related items, is called "Skagway," and is located at milepost 0.0. (Other stations include "Denver" at milepost 5.9; "Glacier" at milepost 14.1; "White Pass" at milepost 20.4; "Fraser" at milepost 27.7; "Bennett" at milepost 40.6; and "Carcross" at milepost 67.5; on the docks there are yard tracks, used for cruise line charter trains, but no stations.)

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This last June we were on the Ruby and took the Lake Bennett and Carcross train out of Skagway. We docked at Ore dock and met our tour on the Ore dock, took a bus over to the in town train station and boarded the train there. It was one of the most enjoyable excursion we have been on. There were only 8 people in the train car, pretty much had all to ourselves. Once we left Bennett we had a nice box on our way to Carcross. Once we got to Carcross we had about an hour to explore before the bus picked us up and took us back the Skagway stopping along the way whenever someone wanted to take pictures. The same bus and driver that took us to the train station in Skagway picked us up in Carcross.

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