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US coal rail traffic, production slightly down in latest week

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Essential Energy Insights - November 2021


US coal rail traffic, production slightly down in latest week

Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week that ended Oct. 7 went down 3% year over year to 87,521 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

Year-to-date coal rail traffic gained 11.8% through the week, while overall rail traffic also edged up 6.3% year over year to 554,826 carloads and intermodal units.

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BNSF Railway Co. reached 40,231 carloads in the week that ended Oct. 7, a less than 1% drop from last week's 40,598 carloads and from the year-ago period's 40,546 carloads.

Union Pacific Corp.'s coal shipment volumes stood at 20,944 carloads, sliding 6.4% from the previous week's 22,378 carloads and 15.5% from the year-ago period's 24,773 carloads.

Eastern railroad CSX Transportation Inc.'s coal shipment volumes clocked in at 16,136 carloads, up 2.6% from the previous week's 15,731 carloads and 1.7% from 15,871 carloads in the year-ago week.

Norfolk Southern Corp.'s coal shipment volumes totaled 20,316 carloads, up 12.7% from the previous week's 18,031 carloads and 12.4% from the prior year's 18,072 carloads.

Kansas City Southern Railway Co.'s latest weekly coal shipment volume showed 3,692 carloads, down 9.3% from the previous week's 4,069 carloads. The railroad serves 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

Production falls 3.5% YOY

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. coal production fell 3.5% year over year to 15.2 million tons, compared with 15.7 million tons during the same period in 2016.

For the year that ended Oct. 7, production stood at 803.2 million tons, up 10% year over year, while year-to-date coal output picked up 11.3% year over year to 605.7 million tons.

The Western region's coal production, at 8.6 million tons, posted a 6.1% cutback from the previous year's 9.2 million tons. Data for the Western region covers Powder River Basin mines.

Coal production from Appalachian mines totaled 3.8 million tons, up 4% from the year-ago week's 3.6 million tons.

The Interior region's production saw a 4.6% contraction to 2.7 million tons from the prior year's 2.9 million tons. 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 indicates both cars originated on their lines during the week and cars received from a connecting railroad during the same week.