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Rail News: Short Lines & Regionals

Reading & Northern posts 2019 traffic, revenue growth

The R&N hauled more than 34,000 carloads in 2019, a 2,000 unit increase from 2018 levels.
Photo – R&N


Reading & Northern Railroad (R&N) logged a 6 percent increase in carloads in 2019 compared with 2018, the Pennsylvania-based regional announced yesterday.

Last year, the railroad broke previous records for carloads, freight revenue and excursion ticket sales, company officials said in a press release.

The R&N hauled more than 34,000 carloads in 2019, a 2,000 carload increase from 2018 levels. Revenue rose "by double digits" as a result of changes in traffic mix and the implementation of strategies to increase R&N's length of hauls in order to reduce transit time, they said.

R&N posted a decrease of 1,000 carloads of export anthracite coal, but that reduction "was more than offset" by 20 existing on-line customers increasing their rail business by more than 10 percent.

R&N officials attributed the increase in on-line customer business to the railroad's new guaranteed service program, which offers customers a guaranteed two-hour service window and five-day-a-week minimum service. R&N met that schedule 99 percent of the time, they said.

"Traffic numbers will only increase in 2020 as a number of industrial development projects begin a full year of service," R&N officials said. "R&N had two significant new customers come on-line in the fourth quarter at the Humboldt Industrial Park in Hazleton that will grow the carloads substantially in 2020."

A number of other industrial projects in the pipeline are expected to begin operation in mid-2020, they added.

Moreover, R&N has "significantly grown" its anthracite coal business by working with offline steel mills and interline partner Norfolk Southern Railway.

"With more on-line coal facilities and production starting in 2020 and more steel mills signing up to receive Pennsylvania anthracite, R&N anticipates significant growth in the coal business for years to come," company officials said.

Meanwhile, R&N sister company Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway (LSGR) increased ridership last year, as more than 143,000 people used one of R&N’s many passenger train offerings.

"This accomplishment is more noteworthy given that R&N shut down its LGSR operations in Jim Thorpe in November due to a tax dispute with the borough’s council," said R&N officials. "While that issue remains unresolved, R&N is confident that its extensive passenger program will thrive in 2020 with new offerings and new equipment."

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