R&N to own, operate track in Humboldt Industrial Park

Written by Carolina Worrell
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Reading Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad (R&N) announced on Nov. 24, 2015 that it will take over ownership of the rail infrastructure at the Humboldt Industrial Park beginning Jan. 1, 2016 through an agreement with the park’s owner, CAN DO, Inc., according to CAN DO President Kevin O’Donnell and Andrew Muller, Jr., owner and CEO of the rail company.

In addition to owning and maintaining all of the track, R&N will also provide service to all of the customers in the industrial park.

CAN DO entered into an agreement in 2012 with R&N to take ownership of the more than seven miles of rail line inside Humboldt at the end of 2016. As a result of negotiations between the park’s current rail provider, Norfolk Southern Railroad Company (NS), and Reading & Northern, the timeline was accelerated to Jan. 1, 2016, O’Donnell said.

Muller said R&N plans to run a scheduled service, but will provide additional rail switches when business needs warrant them. The company will also offer railcar storage and personalized service for each business customer. Muller noted that all traffic to Humboldt Industrial Park will be received at Reading and move directly to Humboldt via Tamaqua and that no traffic to Humboldt should move through downtown Hazleton.

“Each customer will have their own local account representative who can assist them with all their rail needs and any issues that arise,” said Wayne Michel, R&N’s President. “At Reading & Northern the customer comes first and Humboldt customers will learn what our existing customers already know—our service is superior to that of any other railroad. Every Humboldt customer will be visited at least twice before we take over service. During those visits we will get to understand their needs. We will then design a service plan that guarantees every customer a service window and up to six-days-a-week service that meets their needs,” Michel said.

O’Donnell said CAN DO is excited to have R&N as a partner in its economic development efforts to attract new industry to Greater Hazleton. “Rail service is critical to many companies and has been instrumental in the growth of our industrial parks. The new provider promises to be an asset in our future growth.”

“As for potential customers, we will follow-up on all opportunities with our award-winning industrial development team. Reading & Northern, like CAN DO, has a national reputation for its innovative approach to economic development. We have won national awards for our efforts to attract business to the railroad,” Michel said. “We make investments in plant and equipment and we assist customers with their development. We also work to make rail infrastructure decisions easy by charging less for the needed rail work and being more flexible on track design. We have a strong team focused on industrial development and that team will work hand in hand with CAN DO.”

CAN DO constructed the 7.5 miles of track in its Humboldt Industrial Park, which is the region’s largest rail-served industrial park. CAN DO launched the rail service more than 40 years ago with a $165,000 matching grant from the Appalachia Regional Commission and has extended the track numerous times since. Currently, more than 15 industries are dependent on rail service to the park. In 2013, 4,569 rail cars moved through Humboldt and the number increased to 4,633 last year.

R&N is known nationwide for its commitment to working closely with economic development organizations. Michel said the company is proud to continue this approach in its partnership with CAN DO.

R&N is the largest privately owned railroad company in Pennsylvania and was the only railroad to be named Regional Railroad of the Year three times by Railway Age, receiving the honor in 2002, 2011 and 2015.

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