R&N Freight Volume Up 15.4% in 2022

Reading, Blue Mountain & Northern, also known as Reading & Northern, said this week that it gained additional freight traffic in 2022.

The Northeast Pennsylvania-based regional railroad said its revenue freight traffic increased by more than 4,000 carloads, or 15.4 percent, compared with 2021 traffic.

On the passenger side, ridership of R&N’s excursion trains increased by 10 percent to more than 250,000 passengers.

In a news release, R&N officials attributed the increase in freight traffic to increased shipping of anthracite coal and the opening of its Tunkhannock frac sand terminal.

The war in Ukraine helped boost coal traffic as buyers affected by an embargo on Russian goods and raw materials turned to other markets. R&N officials said eastern Ukraine is a major international source of anthracite that has been disrupted by the war.

Coal traffic at R&N rose by 2,624 carloads, almost 40 percent, with much of this additional traffic going to international markets.

R&N said it has begun moving some coal via manifest freights instead of traditional unit trains. That has ended the need for Norfolk Southern to provide motive power for unit trains bound to and from export terminals.

To help make coal shipping more efficient, R&N has acquired more than 550 rapid discharge cars for the export market.

Also driving R&N’s coal business has been an increase in domestic coal shipments as more electric arc furnace facilities expanded and/or began operations. That included plants in Texas and Ontario,

The war in Ukraine also has stimulated demand for Marcellus Shale gas, which the Tunkhannock Marcellus Shale terminal has been able to meet. That facility opened in 2021.

Other commodities that R&N moves include forest products, plastics, food products, metals and chemicals.

On the passenger said, R&N said it will expand its excursion train operations this year.

There will be more trains operating out of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, and that operation has become year around. Excursions from the Wilkes Barre/Scranton area will launch from a station in Pittston.

In 2022, R&N acquired three additional additional rail diesel cars and one passenger coach.

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