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Coal shipments, production up 20% over last year

Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended Dec. 24 rose 20% year over year to 84,518 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

Year-to-date coal rail traffic represented a 20.4% decline, a continued downtrend.

The total rail traffic for the week was 496,633 carloads and intermodal units, up 27% compared with the same week last year.

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BNSF Railway Co. coal shipment volumes clocked in at 37,742 carloads in the week ended Dec. 24, down from last week's 38,079 carloads but up 17% compared to the year-ago week.

Union Pacific Corp. coal shipment volumes this week were at 22,194 carloads, up from 21,238 carloads last week and 4.4% depressed compared to last year's weekly volume.

Eastern railroad CSX Transportation Inc.'s shipment volumes of coal stood at 16,562 carloads, down from the last week's 17,923 carloads, but posted an increase of 44.1% compared to the same week in 2015.

Norfolk Southern Corp. coal shipment volumes totaled 14,735 carloads for the week, down from last week's 18,788 carloads but a 28% jump compared to the same week a year ago.

Kansas City Southern Railway Co.'s latest weekly coal shipment volume showed 3,564 carloads, down from 4,294 carloads the previous week. The railroad serves 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

Production follows rail delivery increase

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. coal production for the week increased 27.7% year over year to 15.2 million tons, compared to 11.9 million tons during the same period last year.

For the 52 weeks ended Dec. 24, production was reported at approximately 734,648 tons, representing an 18.3% year-over-year cutback, while year-to-date coal output fell 18% year over year to about 726,262 tons.

The western region's coal production for the week reached 8.4 million tons, and posted a 20% year-over-year boost from the prior year's nearly 7 million tons. Data for the Western region covers Powder River Basin mines.

Coal production from Appalachian mines totaled 3.7 million tons, a 34.1% jump from the year-ago week's 2.8 million tons.

It was yet another good week for the interior region, after its production rose 44.7% to 3.1 million tons, compared to 2.2 million tons a year ago. Interior region data covers mines in the Illinois Basin.

The EIA's production data is derived from rail carload estimates.

Data collected by S&P Global Market Intelligence from railroads indicate both cars originated on their lines during the week and cars received from a connecting railroad during the same week.