• M/W

R&N Opens New Bridge

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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2020: The second train over RBMN’s then-new Nesquehoning Bridge consisted of locomotives returning to Reading. Andrew Muller, Jr. stopped on the bridge and then walked to the end to take a look at the final product. RBMN photo.

Class II Reading & Northern’s new Nesquehoning Bridge Phase 2, the product of more than 20 years of work led by Owner and CEO Andy Muller, Jr., connects the railroad’s Reading and Lehigh Divisions, “allowing for progressive, expedited moves between Reading and the Scranton area.”

A combination of public funding and a 30% match from the railroad funded the bridge’s design and construction. On Feb. 5, with the sound of an air horn, Muller heralded the crossing of the Lehigh River from the engineer’s seat of locomotive 5033.

First R&N train traversing the new bridge on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 4, 2020. Andrew Muller, Jr. is the engineer. R&N photo.

“This bridge represents a dream come true for me and the railroad,” said Muller. “I began working on this project as soon as we purchased the Lehigh Line from Conrail in 1996. We are grateful for the support of [Pennsylvania Governor] Tom Wolf and the PennDOT team, as well as local legislators like State Senators Dave Argall and John Yudichak. This bridge will improve the efficiency of rail transportation in our area of the state, creating a stronger climate for sustaining and creating jobs by helping existing businesses grow and attracting new enterprises. This bridge was built on time and on budget, and is testament to the great work of our Reading & Northern employees and our primary contractor, J. D. Eckman.”

Reading & Northern Railroad, with its corporate headquarters in Port Clinton, Pa., is a privately held railroad company serving more than 70 customers in nine eastern Pennsylvania counties (Berks, Bradford, Carbon, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Wyoming). It has expanded its operations over the past 30-plus years and now handles more than 34,000 carloads of freight and 140,000 excursion train riders over 400 miles of track. R&N operates both freight services and steam and diesel-powered excursion passenger services, owns almost 1,300 freight cars, and employs nearly 300. It has repeatedly been honored as one of the premier Class II (regional) railroads in the nation, having been named Railway Age’s Regional Railroad of the Year three times (2002, 2011 and 2015).

Andrew Muller, Jr. at the controls of locomotive 5003 as the first train crosses the bridge. R&N photo.
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