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Rail News: Financials

On heels of successful year, Alaska Railroad notes potential for tough times ahead

Increased petroleum shipments and record passenger-rail ridership of 564,800 helped fuel a successful 2007 for the Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC). But railroad officials are concerned about the near-term future.

Yesterday, the railroad released its 2007 annual report, posting net income of $16.3 million, a 55.6 percent increase compared with 2006’s 10.4 million. Freight operating revenue grew 2.4 percent to $91.8 million and passenger revenue rose 9.3 percent to $23.3 million. However, operating expenses increased 7.5 percent to $138.9 million.

Despite higher earnings, overall freight tonnage declined for “the first time in many years,” railroad officials said. So, ARRC is bracing for a potentially uncertain economic future by implementing belt-tightening measures and creating a new five-year plan.

“While we are optimistic about Alaska’s future, we believe it is important to temper that optimism with realism,” said ARRC Chairman John Binkley in a prepared statement. “Our management has begun taking that direction to heart, conducting three audits and numerous assessments to help build the next five-year plan … [which] will help the railroad weather an uncertain future — perhaps more economic downturn on the one extreme, or perhaps fielding new business growth.”

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More News from 4/4/2008