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US coal rail traffic, production continue to decline in latest week

Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended Feb. 17 slipped 3.3% year over year to 87,962 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

Year-to-date coal rail traffic declined 5.2% through the week, while total rail traffic for the week increased 3.1% year over year to 539,963 carloads and intermodal units.

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BNSF Railway Co.'s coal shipment volumes clocked in at 38,101 carloads in the week ended Feb. 17, up 8% from last week's 35,290 carloads but down 5.8% compared to 40,439 carloads the year-ago week.

Union Pacific Corp.'s coal shipment volumes this week were at 23,567 carloads, up 2.7% from 22,949 carloads last week and 8.2% depressed compared to 2017's weekly volume of 25,662 carloads.

Eastern railroad CSX Transportation Inc.'s shipment volumes of coal stood at 14,120 carloads, down 7.1% from last week's 15,203 carloads, and posted a decrease of 12.1% compared to 16,066 carloads the same week in 2017.

Norfolk Southern Corp.'s coal shipment volumes totaled 18,935 carloads for the week, up by 1.9% from last week's 18,581 carloads, and inched up 2.4% compared to 18,496 carloads of the same week a year ago.

Kansas City Southern Railway Co.'s latest weekly coal shipment volume showed 2,438 carloads, a gain of 5% from 2,321 carloads the previous week. The railroad serves 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

YTD coal output slides 7.4%

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. coal production for the week fell 5.7% year over year to 15.6 million tons, compared to 16.5 million tons during the same period in 2017.

For the 52 weeks ended Feb. 17, production was reported at 762.1 million tons, representing a 1.2% year-over-year recovery, while year-to-date coal output dropped 7.4% year over year to about 100.7 million tons.

The western region's coal production for the week reached 8.6 million tons and posted a 4.6% year-over-year contraction from the prior year's 9 million tons. Data for the Western region covers Powder River Basin mines.

Coal production from Appalachian mines totaled 4.1 million tons, sliding 3.5% from the year-ago week's 4.3 million tons.

The interior region's production fell 11.7% to 2.8 million tons, compared to 3.2 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.