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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Reading and Northern, Coos Bay Rail Link cranked up carloads in 2013


The Reading, Blue Mountain and Northern Railroad Co. (RBMN) registered the most successful year in its 30-year history in 2013.

The short line grew its carload business more than 14 percent and increased its total traffic — including export coal volumes — almost 9 percent compared with 2012 figures. The gain far outpaced other short lines and regionals last year, which averaged about 5 percent growth, RBMN officials said in a press release.

Although the anthracite coal export market was weak in 2013, the railroad posted double-digit gains in domestic coal movements and merchandise traffic, which includes woodpulp, paper, metals, food products, plastics and frac sand for Marcellus Shale drilling.

"RBMN was aggressive in industrial development in 2013 with two new rail terminals opened to handle inbound metals for local customers. These new facilities took significant truck traffic off the roads and helped support the local industries depending on this business," RBMN officials said.

The railroad also partnered with a terminal on the Ohio River to increase the movement of anthracite coal by barges.

RBMN currently is working on at least four industrial development site searches along its lines and recently rehabilitated rail infrastructure to provide service to an expanding Cambridge Lee manufacturing facility in Leesport, Pa.

The short line operates about 320 miles of track from Reading to Mehoopany, Pa., and a seven-mile line from Towanda to Monroeton, Pa., and serves major businesses in nine Eastern Pennsylvania counties. In 2012, RBMN entered into an agreement with CAN DO Inc. to purchase the rail assets of the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazleton, and is scheduled to take over service to Humboldt by 2017.

Meanwhile, Coos Bay Rail Link (CBR) moved 4,845 revenue carloads on the Coos Bay rail line in Oregon last year, a 95 percent jump compared with the 2,480 revenue carloads logged in 2012.

CBR operated the line, which runs from a Union Pacific Railroad connection in Eugene to near Coquille, for the second full year in 2013. The short line operates the track through a management agreement between the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay and CBR's owner, ARG Transportation Services Inc. The port is responsible for infrastructure work in the rail corridor.

In 2014, CBR expects another significant increase in revenue carloads in part because of new infrastructure that will help generate additional commodity movements, ARG Transportation officials said in a press release. For example, the the Greenhill Siding is under construction in west Eugene.

"There's a new multi-modal facility under development near the Greenhill Siding, and we expect to see commodities move both inbound and outbound from that operation," said Tom Foster, ARG Transportation's vice president of marketing, who formerly was CBR's general manager. "There are now more than a dozen shippers on the line, and while forest products and wood fiber are the dominant commodities, other goods such as fertilizers and organic dairy feed are increasing in volume."

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