When the barge gets into Whittier the Alaska Railroad unloads the railcars. Then we drive forklifts onboard & unload the freight that is stowed in the over-head "racks". Once the racks are unloaded we have cargo stowed in the bow of the barge (on deck) for Northland Services that is unloaded. My cargo for the various Lynden companies will get loaded to railcars, trucked out or moved on a landing craft to Cordova (if the barge isn't scheduled to go there southbound). All of Northland's cargo leaves Whittier on the train. We probably load an average of about 80-100 railcars during each barge. When we're done unloading cargo, we backload our southbound cargo in the same general areas & the railroad will load the remaining space with their southbound railcars. The entire process averages about 22-24 hours.
Western Towboat is the towboat company we have contracted to tow our barges. These barges are the only ones of their kind in the world. We have three of them and they are 420'L x 100'W. The over-head racks are a very unique feature that allows us to do a better job of loading more cargo tonnage on the barge and utilize more of the barge's tonnage capacity without taking more space away from the railroad. The barges are also equipped with internal ballasting systems to transfer water in/out of the barge in different areas for adjustments needed during railcar load/discharge and certain tidal situations.
I'm the Whittier Terminal Manager for Alaska West Express. We're the agents for Alaska Marine Lines in Central Alaska (Whittier, Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage and Fairbanks, etc.). Alaska Railbelt Marine is the company that owns the barges. Alaska Marine Lines is the company that owns all of the forklifts, containers and most of the trailers. Lynden Transport and Alaska West Express are the primary trucking companies that are delivering the cargo when they arrive in their various locations.
All of these companies are owned by Lynden Inc. and other Lynden companies occasionally utilize this weekly barge service. Northland Services leases barge space from Alaska Railbelt Marine. The Alaska Railroad is the primary customer in this operation and their contract is with Alaska Railbelt Marine. I hope you find these details interesting and informal.
© 2004 Rick McKinley