Alaska Railroad's traffic mix makes up for drop in revenue from less traffic

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SEATTLE — The Alaska Railroad carried a third less freight by weight in 2018 compared with 2017 totals, but a change in the mix of freight coupled with gains on the passenger side helped dampen the drop in revenue and net income.

The Anchorage, Alaska-based state-owned railroad reported operating revenue of $163.4 million in 2018, down from $165.2 million the year before. Net income dropped from $22.4 million to just under $18 million.

The railroad said revenue from the freight business, its largest segment, was virtually unchanged from year to year. A drop in hauls of gravel and petroleum products was offset by increased shipments in its rail-barge business, and military movements.

On the passenger side, the number increased 5 percent and revenue added 10 percent. The total passenger count was 531,611.

Results were also influenced by gains in its real estate operations and grants intended for 2016 but received in 2017. The railroad also had to deal with several incidents of weather damage and the continuing effort to install positive train control on its system.

The railroad said in a statement the 2018 results represent “real performance gains over 2017.”

Alaska Railroad employs about 550 year-round, and adds another 130 to 140 in spring for summer tourism season and for construction.

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