Initially, Military staff hoped to obtain surplus cars from AMTRAK at a reasonable
price. However, in early January 1982, Mr. Frank Jones, General Manager of the Alaska
Railroad (ARR), offered to provide cars free of charge from surplus stocks. He also agreed
to allow AAC free access to the Alaska Railroad's track system and provide, at cost,
locomotive service to pull the cars. The Army took up Mr. Jones' offer.
By May 1982 four of the five cars needed were delivered from ARR to Elmendorf AFB, the fifth arriving later in the year. These included a heavyweight passenger and a heavyweight baggage car from the early 1950s. Teams from the 21 Civil Engineering Squadron and 1931 Communications Group (AFCC) together with maintenance personnel from ARR began converting the cars into the ALCOP immediately. Military personnel renovated the electrical, heating and ventilation systems; designed, built and installed the communications consoles and equipment. Alaska Railroad personnel rebuilt the undercarriages of the cars to bring them up to federal standards.
In early October 1982 the renovation teams had converted all five of the needed cars:
All the windows had welded on sheet metal covers. When the body work was done they were painted in Alaska Railroad colors and looked like passenger cars -- except there were no windows and about 50 antennas on the roof.
Because the train had to be ready for action on short notice, they wanted to have a dedicated locomotive. This is where 1718 from the ARR came in. Many hours were spent designing and installing the communications equipment. In the early 1980s the 1718 was painted sort of yellow (it was called the screaming yellow zonker by the railroad engine crews). In 1982 it was repainted to Alaska Railroad blue and yellow and got its ARR number 1718.
Unit 1718 in its new Alaska RR paintingscheme. Anchorage, june 16,
1982. Picture from the may 1984 issue of Extra 2200 South (issue 80). Photo by Curt
Fortenberry, scan by Stefan Nicolaļ
The train went under several names, mostly it was the ALCOP [an accronym for ALternate COmmand Post]. Mostly it was just called "the train". It was deactivated about 1992, a victim of the fall of the USSR.
Some of the information concerning the ALCOP train was distilled from a document, named:
a study of Alaska's Railmobile Command Post
by TSgt William J. Allen
Eleventh Air Control Wing
Elmendorf Consolidated History Office
(13 January 1993)