North Shore Railroad hauls freight in region

Six separate rail lines operating under different names comprise the North Shore Railroad Co., their diesel locomotives hauling carloads of freight throughout the region..

The headquarters for the rail operation can be found in the Newberry section of Williamsport.

“We started the railroad on Aug. 16, 1996, North Shore Railroad Chief Marketing Officer Todd A. Hunter said. “We have since then grown our traffic base and customer base.”

Among the freight haulers are Lycoming Valley Railroad, the company’s biggest rail operation, based in Newberry.

With its diverse manufacturing base, Williamsport alone provides a prime customer base for Lycoming Valley Railroad.

“We are in the customer service business,” Hunter said. “We move things around.”

In addition to Lycoming Valley, North Shore is comprised of Juniata Valley, Nittany and Bald Eagle, North Shore, Shamokin Valley, and Union County Industrial railroads, each of which service designated geographical areas.

All told, about 85 to 100 companies are served by North Shore with some 11,000 jobs in central Pennsylvania dependent upon the rail operation.

North Shore hauls approximately 20,000 carloads of freight per year.

“We are a Class 3 carrier certified shortline,” Hunter said.

SEDA-Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority owns the tracks used by the different rail companies.

“They are the landlord. We are the tenants,” Hunter explained.

North Shore employs 77 people engaged in activities from actual rail operations to maintenance, the vast majority of whom have been with the company five years or longer..

“We pay family sustaining wages,” Hunter said.

The Newberry railyards include various repair shop and other related activities.

Loni A. Briner, public relations media manager, said, “We have our locomotive shop here. A lot of shortlines don’t have that.”

Hunter noted that the natural gas boom of recent years brought a greater demand for freight-hauling.

But even after that economic wave fell away, North Shore continued to grow.

“We were growing before the Marcellus Shale drilling,” Hunter said.

And, the company is ready if the drilling returns in force.

North Shore Railroad also runs tour trains throughout the region over 20 weekends a year.

Each October and December, Lycoming Valley Railroad hauls passenger for the Fall Foliage and Santa Express train excursions. Sponsored by the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, the trips have become popular annual events.

Hunter called the tour trains the company’s “giveback to the community.”