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YOY coal rail traffic, production continue to inch up in latest week

Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended May 5 rose 5.5% year over year to 77,468 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

Year-to-date coal rail traffic increased by less than 1% through the week, while total rail traffic climbed 7.5% year over year to 545,937 carloads and intermodal units.

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BNSF Railway Co.'s coal shipment volumes clocked in at 31,307 carloads in the week ended May 5, down 2.5% from last week's 32,113 carloads but up 8% compared to 28,991 carloads in the year-ago week.

Union Pacific Corp.'s coal shipment volumes this week were at 17,954 carloads, up 7% from 16,772 carloads last week but down 3.8% from 2017's weekly volume of 18,665 carloads.

Eastern railroad CSX Transportation Inc.'s shipment volumes of coal stood at 14,737 carloads, down 13.1% from last week's 16,949 carloads, and down 4.9% from 15,494 carloads during the same week in 2017.

Norfolk Southern Corp.'s coal shipment volumes totaled 19,466 carloads for the week, down 7.1% from the prior week's 20,954 carloads but up 19.9% from 16,233 carloads of the same week a year ago.

Kansas City Southern Railway Co.'s latest weekly coal shipment volume showed 1,658 carloads, up 43.2% from 1,158 carloads the previous week. The railroad serves 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

US coal production up 3.4% YOY

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. coal production for the week inched up 3.4% year over year to 13.6 million tons, compared to 13.1 million tons during the same period in 2017.

For the 52 weeks ended May 5, production was reported at 766.9 million tons, representing a decrease of less than 1% year over year, while year-to-date coal output dropped 2.1% year over year to 260.2 million tons.

The western region's coal production for the week reached 7.4 million tons, increasing 5.9% year over year from the prior year's 7.0 million tons. Data for the Western region covers Powder River Basin mines.

Coal production from Appalachian mines posted a minimal increase of 1.7% year over year to 3.7 million tons.

The interior region's production numbers dipped 1.1% year over year to 2.5 million tons, from 2.6 million tons the previous year. 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.