Alaska Railroad Corp. reports revenue growth despite decline in petroleum, coal shipments

MarketsAssociated Press

The Alaska Railroad Corp. is reporting revenue growth of more than 4 percent in the last fiscal year, despite declines in petroleum and coal shipments.

Railroad revenue rose 4.3 percent between July 2013 and July 2014, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://is.gd/hLI5Wa) reported. Most of the increase is credited to freight shipments, with the rest coming from passenger and real estate gains.

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Most of the boost in freight shipment is attributed to Alaska Rail Marine. Shipments in the weekly barge service rose nearly 30 percent from 2013. Revenues from passengers rose nearly 11 percent.

The boost in revenue comes at a time of significant decline in transporting Flint Hills Resources petroleum products. There also has been a slight decrease in coal shipments.

Usibelli Coal Mine spokesman Rob Brown blamed a difficult export market for a rail-transport decline of roughly 10 percent. Exports account for about 40 percent of the coal mine's market, according to Brown.

Little or no increase is expected in rail travel to Fairbanks this summer, according to Deb Hickok, president and CEO of Explore Fairbanks. But Fairbanks has seen a significant increase in winter rail travel, she said.

The railroad is planning to add two Fairbanks special event trains in the coming colder season, starting with an Oct. 18 Fairbanks holiday train.

Railroad spokesman Dale Wade declined to comment specifically on an increase in real estate holdings.

He said the railroad's revenue increase comes from a healthy economy. But the corporation is mindful of reduced petroleum shipments.

"It's going to be a long road ahead," Wade said. "We don't have the luxury of taking our foot off the gas pedal in any of our business lines."

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com