Canadian National's AquaTrain


The AquaTrain is an intermodal service, but it has never carried a container or a trailer! It transports rail cars in a unique rail/marine link between CN's northwestern terminus of Prince Rupert, B.C. and the Alaska Railroad at Whittier, Alaska.

In May, the AquaTrain celebrated its 35th year of service by loading a record 50 rail cars onto the barge. "We usually sail with a full load, but this is the first time we've been able to load that many rail cars for one sailing," says Joe Schiller, CN's manager of the AquaTrain.

For the AquaTrain service, rail cars are loaded from the dock at Prince Rupert onto the barge which is then moved by tugboat to Whittier. From there, the rail cars are interchanged to the Alaska Railroad for delivery throughout the state. The one-way trip to Whittier takes about four days.

The AquaTrain operates year-round using the shortest water route to Alaska, and the largest rail car barge in the world. "Over the years," Schiller notes, "the AquaTrain has transported a variety of goods to Alaska, including frozen orange juice from Florida! We've also transported power generators from England via the Port of Montreal and steel from Japan via the Port of Vancouver," he adds.

CN offers daily freight service to Prince Rupert and connects with all major North American railroads to provide shippers with reliable and competitive service when shipping north to Alaska, or south to Canada and the United States.

A special thanks to Donna Semeniuk at Canadian National for giving permission to reprint this information.
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Photographs courtesy of Shane Durand. Whittier, 9/27/01

Question: What is the number of days for the voyage?

Answer: It takes about 3 days, currently the CN docks in Whittier about every 18 days

Question: Does CN uses smaller barges?

Answer: They carry about the same number of cars but the CN is railroad cars only no containers.

Question: How often does the Seattle barges dock?

Answer: Every Wednesday is the schedule although weather will cause delays.


Page created 8/21/98 and last updated 3/9/16