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Reading Northern named railroad of year

Railway Age Magazine has named Reading & Northern Railroad its 2020 Regional Railroad of the Year.

This is the fourth time that Reading & Northern has been honored with this distinction, and it is the only railroad to win more than twice, winning previously in 2002, 2011 and 2015.

The railroad was recognized for its multiyear project to construct a new bridge spanning the Lehigh River near Nesquehoning.

The $14 million bridge was a public/private partnership between the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the R&N, with R&N contributing $4 million.

The new bridge is a three-span, 450-foot-long structure that soars 55 feet above the river, connecting the railroads Reading and Lehigh divisions.

The railroad broke ground for the project in August 2017 and set the first beams in July 2019.

Work was completed in February 2020, and CEO Andy Muller Jr. operated the first train across the new bridge.

This new bridge connection allows the Reading & Northern to further improve service to its customers through improved transit times between the interchange and the customers siding.

By moving traffic via this route, it provides a faster transit time for the customer, cutting at least 48 hours out of the trip. The routing also reduces the total trip mileage, by eliminating circuitous routing on the Class I railroads.

The improved routing also benefits equipment owners by reducing the round trip by over 96 hours.

Muller said, “On behalf of the 200-plus employees of the Reading & Northern and the many contractors who helped us build the Nesquehoning Bridge, I want to thank the publishers of Railway Age for this great honor. Reading & Northern strives for greatness, but we do so not to win awards or recognition.

“We do so because we have to earn our customers’ business every day. And to win the business we constantly have to be improving our service and offering new service. The Nesquehoning Bridge will enable us to improve service for many of our customers and it will open up new business opportunities for the region we serve and call home.”

Reading & Northern Railroad, with its headquarters in Port Clinton, is a privately held railroad company serving over 70 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties.

The first train goes over the bridge in Nesquehoning. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO