Alaska Railroad to eliminate 52 positions

The Alaska Railroad is eliminating 52 positions.

Not all are currently filled, so the actual number of layoffs will be less.

The railroad's director of strategic planning, Bruce Carr, says layoffs are necessary because less fuel is being shipped from the Flint Hills Refinery in North Pole to Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. That equates to about a $5 million loss.

The downturn in the economy is blamed. Cargo flights are a majority of the business at the Anchorage airport, and a decline in flights began in 2009.

Flint Hills officials say about the same time, crude prices rose, making it more difficult to compete with Asian suppliers. They are closing down their second jet fuel unit, which will leave only one in North Pole.