By Associated Press - Friday, February 10, 2017

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - The state-owned Alaska Railroad is cutting 49 jobs as part of a major restructuring.

The railroad says 18 positions already were unfilled and actual layoffs will be 31 employees.

The restructuring occurs as the railroad deals with a 44 percent downturn in freight tonnage since 2008.

That includes an 84 percent drop in refined petroleum business after a refinery at North Pole closed.

The railroad closed its coal export facility in Seward when exports ended.

Expenses, meanwhile, increased for health care benefits, labor and resources needed to comply with Positive Train Control, a system aimed at automatically stopping trains top prevent accidents.

The railroad says the reorganization represents an 8 percent reduction in the year-round workforce, currently at 609.

The railroad has cut 300 year-round positions since 2008.

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