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Alaska Railroad hauls first US LNG shipments by rail in demonstration

The first U.S. shipments of LNG by rail are set to begin Sept.27 as Alaska Railroad Corp. starts a series of eight demonstrations. 

Two 40-foot containers are moving LNG from a Titan LNG facilitynear Port MacKenzie, Alaska, to the Fairbanks Natural Gas storage facility,Alaska Railroad said. The demonstrations, which will conclude Oct. 21, are partof a twice-weekly test meant to show community members, regulators andproducers that shipping LNG by rail is a safe and viable alternative totrucking.

"What we want to be able to show is that we can do itefficiently," Tim Sullivan, manager of external affairs for AlaskaRailroad, said in aphone interview. "The determination in thelong run is going to be up to the customer."

Alaska Railroad received authorization from the Federal RailroadAdministration in October 2015 to haul LNG. It is working with regulators too,as it considers making the shipments a part of its business. Though not arequirement, the company said it met several operating conditions whilepreparing for the demonstrations.

Emergency responders from Titan LNG's hazmat team will becomefamiliar with rail loading and transportation operations during the series oftests, said Sullivan. Firefighters, police officers and emergency medicaltechnicians were also given the chance to learn about the cryogenic containersduring training of first-response agencies earlier in the month.

The railroad will review test results with the FRA following thedemonstrations.