Reading & Northern posts best year ever in 2017; sends anthracite to steel mill

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A Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern train.
Robert Kaplan
PORT CLINTON, Pa. — Reading & Northern Railroad surpassed the 30,000-freight car benchmark on its way to the most successful year in its history in 2017.

By the end of 2017 the Reading & Northern had handled 31,175 carloads an increase in carloadings and revenue of close to 15 percent over 2016 and almost 50 percent over the last five years. This explosive growth was fueled by a late-year announcement of a major sale of Pennsylvania anthracite to the Ukraine, replacing Russian coal. Following a July announcement of the deal at the White House, the Reading & Northern's managers were told to prepare to move over 300,000 tons of anthracite by year-end. The Reading & Northern stepped up and managed to provide all the cars needed for the business and served as many as eight different origins as the entire anthracite community pulled together to fill this huge order.

The other big development in the anthracite business was the fulfillment of seven years of work to connect Hazleton Shaft and its new state-of-the art coal dryer to the Reading & Northern. 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. By year-end the Reading & Northern and its customer, Hiller Hazleton, had shifted 40,000 tons to rail for delivery to a Midwestern steel mill. To accomplish this the Reading & Northern purchased another 121 covered hopper cars and a brand new conveyor to assist with the unloading at a transfer station in Indiana. Railroad managers expect to convert more of this truck traffic to rail in 2018.

Past industrial development projects reached fruition adding hundreds of new cars of business. The Reading & Northern's transload facilities and warehouse found new customers and added more cars to our business. The Reading & Northern Forest Products stayed strong and handled over 10,000 carloads in 2017.

In order to handle this growth in business the Reading & Northern bought more freight cars, locomotives, hired more workers, opened more facilities, and invested more into track and signal systems.

"It is never my intention to rest on our success and to pocket our profits. My goal is to build the best railroad in the nation. And to do that we have to constantly invest in the railroad," says railroad owner and CEO Andy Muller, Jr.

More information is available online.

— A Reading & Northern news release. Jan. 8, 2018.

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