Some people might be surprised at the amount of goods and supplies hauled by Lycoming Valley Railroad.
"This is the largest rail yard between Harrisburg and Buffalo," said Todd Hunter, director of marketing for the North Shore Railroad Co.
The North Shore Railroad Co. is an independent, locally owned private freight railroad company operating five railroads for the SEDA-Council of Governments Joint Rail Authority.
The authority is a non-profit agency that owns about 200 miles of short line track in central Pennsylvania and contracts with the North Shore Railroad Co. which provides the rail service.
Among the short lines is Lycoming Valley Railroad based in the Newberry section of Williamsport.
Lycoming Valley is the biggest," Hunter said. "It is also a maintenance center."
A visitor to the rail yard can see first-hand the diesel locomotives resting along the tracks or hauling rail cars.
Lycoming Valley Railroad originated in 1996, and much has changed over the years.
"Back then, we thought we were busy," Hunter said. "Three trains were working in the yard. Now, we have up to seven train crews a day."
The railroad serves roughly 100 customers.
"We are a very large short line railroad," said North Shore Railroad Co. President Gary Shields.
Hunter said it would be difficult to list all the commodities handled by the railroad but they include scrap metal, coal and forest products.
"If there is a large manufacturing plant in the area, we probably handle their materials," he added. "The industrial base here is very diverse."
Added Shields: "We have a very strong customer base."
Last year the railroad expanded its operations to include seven additional miles of track.
Most recently, the railroad has concentrated on investing in infrastructure and personnel and improving its locomotive fleet.
For the most part, the railroad does not depend on government subsidies.
"We have received grants," Hunter said. "(But) This enterprise is self-sustained."
Not only are many of its customers local, the railroad buys many of its own products from local businesses.
As an example, Hunter noted that it has purchased railroad ties from Koppers in Muncy.
Lycoming Valley Railroad runs from Avis east to Muncy.
And, it is a very busy operation, according to Hunter.
"We were busy without the Marcellus Shale boom," he said. "But the Marcellus Shale has had a major impact on us."
Overall, North Shore Railroad Co. employs about 100 people. It owns 25 locomotives with train crews in 2011 running about 120,000 miles..
On Aug. 1 the company will celebrate its 28th year.
"We are known for a consistent level of customer service," Shields said.
Hunter said the railroads are really service type enterprises.
"We are pleased to be here," he said.
North Shore Railroad Co's other short line railroads are North Shore Railroad, Juniata Valley Railroad, Nittany & Bald Eagle Railroad, Shamokin Valley Railroad and Union County Industrial Railroad.
All of the railroads, excluding Union County Industrial Railroad, operate on authority-owned tracks.
The Union County railroad has portions of track held by private parties, as well track owned by the authority.
The North Shore Railroad Co.'s agreement with the authority expires in 2017.