Reading and Northern Railroad announced that despite a challenging national economy, the company is continuing to see major growth in operations.

With corporate headquarters in Port Clinton, the privately held-railroad company which currently employs over 150 employees, serves eight counties in Eastern Pennsylvania, including Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne.

In 2011 the railroad saw double-digit traffic growth. RBMN handled close to 24,000 carloads over its tracks, which represented the highest carloadings in the company's 20-plus year history. Because of this strong performance, officials at the railroad believe that 2012 will be even brighter as they continue to build on recent industrial development successes.

"In a time where companies are feeling the pressures of a weak national economy, we here at Reading and Northern Railroad are striving to meet those challenges head-on," said Andrew M. Muller Jr., CEO of Reading and Northern Railroad. "By making wise business choices and investments, we have continually surpassed our expectations and are working toward building a brighter future for our company, our employees, and most importantly, for our customers.

"Without the continued support of our customers, Reading and Northern would not be able to overcome these current economic challenges that businesses are facing today," Muller continued.

During 2011, in addition to its normal freight operations in Eastern Pennsylvania, Reading and Northern Railroad also invested and expanded operations into the fields of natural gas supplies and anthracite coal transportation.

The Pittston Yards project, which the railroad partnered with D&I Silica to develop a 140-year-old rail yard into a regional frac sand terminal, saw a continuation of its monumental first year, handling well over 1,000 carloads of business.

The company's second endeavor was investing in port facilities along the Delaware River near Philadelphia, where it could export anthracite coal to international customers. Reading and Northern partnered with Kinder Morgan to invest in setting up a facility and transport hundreds of carloads of anthracite to the new port. By the end of the year, the railroad had secured a long-term contract with Rio Tinto, the company's largest coal consumer. As part of its commitment to this facility, RBMN purchased 180 aluminum rapid discharge railcars at a cost of approximately $4 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

"After Reading and Northern was faced with the loss of the Port of Baltimore as an outlet for our Pennsylvania anthracite business, we embarked on an extensive search for a port that would be able to meet our needs, with the option of expansion," said Wayne Michel, president of Reading and Northern Railroad. "The port of Fairless Hills met our needs. The development of this port with Kinder Morgan will provide our anthracite customers with access to international markets for years to come.

"What these industrial development projects show is that the men and women of

Reading and Northern will stop at nothing to grow our business and serve our customers in the most efficient manner possible," Michel continued.

Reading and Northern Railroad has expanded its operations over the last 27 years and has grown into one of the premier railroads in the state – being named the 2011 Regional Railroad of the Year – with both freight services and passenger excursion operations.