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Vol. 13, No. 29 Week of July 20, 2008
Providing coverage of Alaska and northern Canada's oil and gas industry

Petroleum Directory: Alaska Railroad profits up in 2007 on increased ridership

The Alaska Railroad Corp. made a profit of $16.3 million for 2007, up 57 percent from the prior year, according to its annual report released in April.

Total revenues were $169.3 million for the year, with operating revenues rising 12 percent to $148.6 million.

Passenger ridership rose to a record of nearly 565,000 travelers, and assets grew by $120 million to $835 million.

“The Alaska Railroad had another banner year,” said John Binkley, chairman of the railroad board.

The only troubling part of the report was a decline in freight tonnage for 2007, though freight revenues rose.

For the future, the railroad managers want to be prepared in the event of an economic downturn, Binkley said, and the board decided 2007 should be a year of belt-tightening.

The railroad has to be prepared for more economic gloom Binkley noted, or for the growth that a natural gas pipeline would bring.

“Accommodating either economic scenario will require the railroad to improve our fundamental corporate position, focus more on the core business, and streamline the organization where possible,” Binkley wrote.

“2007 allowed us to pause, re-baseline, and prepare a follow-on five-year plan,” said Pat Gamble, the railroad’s president and CEO.

The year also was marked by the signing of three important labor contracts, issuance of $88 million in revenue bonds, and an aggressive maintenance program. The railroad laid more than half a million feet of new rail, 61,000 wooden ties, and 22,000 concrete ties, still coming in $1 million under budget for the mainline track work, according to Gamble.

There were only 14 minor derailments, none on the main line, and the corporation compiled an excellent safety record for the year, he said.



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