For the first time since it was created, Consolidated Rail Corp, yesterday reported a profit-making quarter.
Conrail, the federally subsidized freight railroad, reported net income of $28 million in the April-June period, based on preliminary figures, compared with a loss of $60.9 million in the same quarter of 1978.
It was the first quarter in which a profit was reported since Conrail was formed on April 1, 1976, and the fourth consecutive quarter in which the financial results improved, Conrail officials said yesterday.
In the first six months of this year, Conrail's losses totaled $100 million, compared with losses of $276 million in the same period of 1978.
Conrail Chairman Edward Jordan attributed the shift to carrying more freight at an increased rate and doing so with about 4,000 fewer employes than during the same period last year.
The drop in employes was from a substantial amount of attrition as well as a reduction of crew members following an agreement Conrail signed with the United Transporation Union last fall. Its total workforce now is about 89,000.
Jordan said the physical volume carried was up 10 percent in the first quarter and another 0.5 percent the second. At the same time, rates were up 11 percent during the second quarter over the year-before period. A 7 percent increase in rates was granted by the Interstate Commerce Commission at the beginning of the year and a 1.2 percent passthrough of fuel increases was granted last month.
Despite the rosier picture, Jordan was not optimistic about the rest of the year. Positive results for the second half of the year are not forecast, he indicated, because of the predictions of a recession, a fall off of auto sales, and general uncertainty.
"But we are very encouraged . . . We have achieved out projected plan for the first six months; management is running the railroad in line with its own expectations," he said. "We think that's an important step forward."