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US coal rail traffic, production continue to enjoy gains in third week

Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended Jan. 21 posted a 22.4% year-over-year increase to 90,786 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

Year-to-date coal rail traffic also climbed 11.5% through the week, as well as the overall rail traffic, which gained 8.1% year over year to 530,299 carloads and intermodal units.

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BNSF Railway Co.'s coal shipment volumes clocked in at 40,417 carloads in the week ended Jan. 21, up from last week's 37,177 carloads, and up 21.7% compared to the year-ago week.

Union Pacific Corp.'s coal shipment volumes this week were at 24,412 carloads, down from 24,521 carloads last week but up 9.3% compared to last year's weekly volume.

Eastern railroad CSX Transportation Inc.'s shipment volumes of coal stood at 15,481 carloads, up from the last week's 15,113 carloads, and posted a 21.6% recovery compared to the same week in 2015.

Norfolk Southern Corp.'s coal shipment volumes totaled 19,073 carloads for the week, also up from last week's 18,067 carloads, and spiked 37.8% compared to the same week a year ago.

Kansas City Southern Railway Co.'s latest weekly coal shipment volume showed 3,974 carloads, up from 3,559 carloads the previous week. The railroad serves 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

Coal output soars 20.6% in latest week

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. coal production continued its upswing for a third week, surging 20.6% year over year to 16.8 million tons during the week ended Jan. 21, compared to 13.9 million tons during the same period last year.

However, for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 21, production remained down, posting a 14.5% year over year decrease to roughly 754 million tons, while year-to-date coal output improved 13.5% year over year to about 46.3 million tons through Jan. 21.

The Western region's coal production for the week totaled 8.9 million tons, representing a 20.7% year over year increase from the prior year's 7.4 million tons. Data for the Western region covers Powder River Basin mines.

Coal production from Appalachian mines clocked in at 4.2 million tons, rising 19% from the year-ago week's 3.6 million tons.

The interior region also showed strength, after its production climbed 22.2% to 3.6 million tons compared to 3.0 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.