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Reading & Northern's 2017 growth fueled by anthracite coal

Based in Port Clinton, Pennsylvania, the R&N operates freight-rail service, as well as an excursion passenger service.
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A 40 percent increase in its anthracite coal business helped propel Reading & Northern Railroad (R&N) to its most successful year in history, company officials announced last week.

In 2017, the R&N handled 31,175 carloads and revenue of nearly 15 percent over 2016's levels.

"This unprecedented growth came across all of the many commodity lanes handled by the R&N," company officials said in a press release.

The 40 percent increase in the anthracite coal business was fueled by a late-2017 announcement of a sale of Pennsylvania anthracite to the Ukraine, replacing Russian coal. In addition, the completion of a seven-year project to connect by rail the Hazleton Shaft to a new state-of-the-art coal dryer helped boost the R&N's anthracite coal traffic.

"That project was finally completed this summer and the process of shifting over 100,000 tons of dried coal delivered by truck over to rail began," R&N officials said. "By year end, R&N and its customer Hiller Hazleton had shifted 40,000 tons to rail for delivery to a Midwestern steel mill."

To accomplish the task, R&N purchased 121 covered hopper cars and a new conveyor to assist with an unloading at a transfer station in Indiana.

"We expect to convert more of this truck to rail in 2018," they added.

The railroad achieved success in other areas, too. Past industrial development projects reached fruition, which added hundreds of new cars of business. Additionally, R&N's transload facilities and warehouse found new customers. And the forest products business handled more than 10,000 carloads last year.

By the year's end, the R&N had more employees, track, locomotives, freight cars, facilities and customers than at any point in its history, said R&N officials. With more than 20 active industrial projects in various stages of development, R&N anticipates future growth.

"I expect our superior service will help our customers grow and as they grow we will benefit," said Chief Executive Officer Andy Muller. "I expect our reputation to encourage more businesses to locate along our lines."

Based in Port Clinton, Pennsylvania, the R&N operates freight-rail service, as well as an excursion passenger service on its Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. The railroad owns nearly 1,200 freight cars and employs more than 200 people.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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