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Downswing in coal rail traffic, production persists

TotalU.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended Sept. 24 showed a 13.9% decline yearover year to 87,486 carloads, according to data from the Association ofAmerican Railroads.

Coalrail traffic declined through the week, with year-to-date settling in at around25.8% lower than the same period last year, a strong indication of what couldbe the largest annualcoal production decline on record.

Thetotal rail traffic for the week was 539,609 carloads and intermodal units,sliding 4.8% from the year-ago period.

coal shipmentvolumes settled at 38,335 carloads in the week ended Sept. 24, down fromlast week's 41,259carloads and 15.5% lower than the year-ago week.

's coalshipment volumes this week were at 23,516 carloads, down from 24,721 carloadslast week and down 14.1% compared to last year's weekly volume.

Easternrailroad CSX TransportationInc.'s shipment volumes of coal stood at 17,137 carloads, up fromthe last week's 14,741 carloads, but slipping 4.5% compared to the same week in2015.

's coalshipment volumes totaled 17,947 carloads for the week, down from last week's18,299 carloads and 18% from the same week a year ago.

'slatest weekly coal shipment volume showed 3,689 carloads, down from 3,997carloads the previous week. The railroad serves 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

Year-to-date coal productionstill feeble

Accordingto data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. coal productionfor the week ended Sept. 24 tightened by 11.8% to 15.7 million tons, comparedto 17.8 million tons a year ago.

Forthe 52 weeks ended Sept. 24, production clocked in at 741.3 million tons, a21.2% year over year contraction, while year-to-date coal output was 22.3%depressed year over year to about 523.8 million tons through Sept. 24.

Thewestern region's coal production for the week totaled 8.9 million tons,tumbling 12.7% compared to the previous year's 10.2 million tons. Data for theWestern region covers Powder River Basin mines.

Coalproduction from Appalachian mines for the period weakened by 11.9% to 3.8million tons, compared to roughly 4.3 million tons of the same week in 2015.

Forthe interior region, weekly total coal production dwindled by 9% to 3.1 milliontons from the year-ago week's output of 3.4 million tons. Interior region datacovers mines in the Illinois Basin.

TheEIA's production data is derived from rail carload estimates.

Data collected by S&PGlobal Market Intelligence from railroads indicate both cars originated ontheir lines during the week and cars received from a connecting railroad duringthe same week.