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US coal rail traffic, production continue to see increases in latest week

Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended March 17 jumped 11.3% year over year to 85,939 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

Year-to-date coal rail traffic declined 1.9% through the week, while total rail traffic climbed 10.1% year over year to 537,338 carloads and intermodal units.

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BNSF Railway Co.'s coal shipment volumes clocked in at 35,613 carloads in the week ended March 17, down 2.4% from last week's 36,476 carloads and down 1.3% compared to 36,078 carloads in the year-ago week.

Union Pacific Corp.'s coal shipment volumes this week were at 21,283 carloads, up by less than 1% from 21,224 carloads last week and shooting up 21.1% from 2017's weekly volume of 17,573 carloads.

Eastern railroad CSX Transportation Inc.'s shipment volumes of coal stood at 14,977 carloads, down 3.3% from last week's 15,491 carloads, but up 18.6% compared to 12,632 carloads during the same week in 2017.

Norfolk Southern Corp.'s coal shipment volumes totaled 20,943 carloads for the week, rising 15.8% from last week's 18,092 carloads and up 12% compared to 18,694 carloads of the same week a year ago.

Kansas City Southern Railway Co.'s latest weekly coal shipment volume showed 1,760 carloads, an increase of 16.5% from 1,511 carloads the previous week. The railroad serves 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

YTD coal output down 4.4%

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. coal production for the week increased 8.6% year over year to 15.2 million tons, compared to 14.0 million tons during the same period in 2017.

For the 52 weeks ended March 17, production was reported at 763.1 million tons, representing a slight increase of nearly 1% year over year, while year-to-date coal output dropped 4.4% year over year to about 160.9 million tons.

The western region's coal production for the week reached 8.3 million tons, rising 8.3% year-over-year from the prior year's 7.7 million tons. Data for the Western region covers Powder River Basin mines.

Coal production from Appalachian mines totaled 4.1 million tons, a recovery of 12.5% from the 3.6 million tons of the year-ago week.

The interior region's production rose 4.1% to 2.8 million tons, from 2.7 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.