The Reading & Northern Railroad (R&N) had another banner year breaking previous records for carloadings, freight revenue, and excursion ticket sales.
Despite the fact that the national rail freight industry suffered a 5% decline in traffic, R&N had a 6% increase in carloadings. R&N ended the year hauling over 34,000 carloads, a 2,000 carload increase from 2018. Revenues were up by double digits as a result of changes in traffic mix and implementation of strategies to increase R&N length of hauls in order to reduce transit time for customers.
Traffic numbers would have been even more robust if not for the loss of 1000 carloads of export anthracite coal business. That reduction was more than offset by the fact that 20 existing on-line customers increased their rail business by over 10%.
Traffic numbers are expected to increase in 2020 as a number of industrial development projects begin a full year of service. R&N had two significant new customers come on-line in Q4 2019 at the Humbolt Industrial Park in Hazleton that will grow carloadings substantially in 2020. There are a number of other industrial projects in the pipeline that should begin operation mid-2020.
In addition, R&N has significantly grown its anthracite coal business by working with offline steel mills and interline partner Norfolk Southern. 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.
Another area of big growth in 2019 was R&N’s transloading and warehouse business. 2019 marked the first year in operation of R&N’s owned and operated warehouse in Ransom. Business exceeded expectations as many customers chose R&N to store and ultimately forward by rail or truck their goods. At year’s end, R&N also opened its new West Hazleton transload site, which is already handling substantial carloads of coiled steel.
“We are committed to growing our business. Growth is good for our employees, the communities we serve and the customers we service. In order to grow we must invest in our railroad and our employees and I will continue to plow our profits back into taking care of our employees and the railroad.” said CEO Andy Muller, Jr.
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