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Reading & Northern Railroad breaks traffic records

Published January 26. 2019 06:20AM

Reading & Northern Railroad broke all of its records for revenues, freight carload traffic and passenger excursion guests in 2018.

Ending the year with double digit growth in both freight and passenger revenue R&N was able to continue its streak of annual growth.

Once again, the movement of anthracite coal showed the most growth.

R&N’s coal business grew in response to increased demand by domestic Electric Arc Furnace Steel producers. This growth was enough to overcome losses in certain lanes due to fires at an originating coal processor and one of its key destination customers as well as a decline in the movement of export coal to Ukraine.

In 2018, R&N began to see the promise of delivering dried coal to steel producers.

Hazleton Shaft originated over 1,300 carloads of business, most of it going to domestic steel producers.

R&N business out of Hazleton Shaft, now known as Atlantic Coal, is set to increase in 2019.

R&N success covered other commodities as well.

Forest Products business remains its largest single source of income.

R&N recently purchased its first warehouse in Ransom. This warehouse will allow wood pulp and other forest products producers to ship their raw materials by rail off of Norfolk Southern or Canadian Pacific origins to a central location in northeast Pennsylvania from where it can be shipped out by rail or truck.

The warehouse acquisition is part of a broader R&N strategy to get more involved in transloading and distribution services.

In addition to acquiring the warehouse R&N also opened a new transload site for pipe and went into the intrastate trucking business in 2018.

As good a year as R&N had hauling freight, its success in the passenger excursion business was even more notable.

In 2018, R&N, and its sister company Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, smashed all of its ridership records.

A total of 143,000 people rode one of R&N’s passenger train offerings.

In addition, R&N added 18 men and women to its ranks and now employs well over 250 people.

Led by owner/CEO Andy Muller Jr., R&N continued to invest in the future.

“Our customers in both the freight and passenger worlds demand more service,” he said. “That’s why we purchased a warehouse and built more freight facilities this year, and that is why we opened Outer Station in North Reading and expanded our passenger offerings this year.

“I will continue to give our employees the tools they need to succeed, and I will continue to take our profits and invest them into making our freight and passenger experience second to none.”

On tap for 2019 is more investment into the railroad.

Four large customer development projects are already booked requiring construction of eight switches and 2 miles of new sidings.

In December, the company purchased four additional locomotives and it plans on purchasing 150-250 additional freight cars.

“To grow the business and satisfy your customers you have to invest,” Muller said. “We invest in our people and in our infrastructure. That’s how we provide a safe, dependable service day in and day out.

Safe? Interesting! Seems I've heard about unreported derailments, cleaned up under cover of night in the Jim Thorpe area! I wonder what Railroad Republican Deviants are responsible.

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