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US coal rail traffic soars 13.3% YOY in second week, output climbs 13.4%

Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended Jan. 14 gained 13.3% year over year to 85,133 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

Year-to-date coal rail traffic also rose 6.2% through the week, along with the overall rail traffic, which posted a 2% increase year over year to 516,229 carloads and intermodal units.

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BNSF Railway Co.'s coal shipment volumes clocked in at 37,177 carloads in the week ended Jan. 14, up from last week's 34,464 carloads and increased 13.9% compared to the year-ago week.

Union Pacific Corp.'s coal shipment volumes this week were at 24,521 carloads, up from 21,546 carloads last week and 6.6% higher compared to last year's weekly volume.

Eastern railroad CSX Transportation Inc.'s shipment volumes of coal stood at 15,113 carloads, up from the last week's 10,918 carloads and climbed 11.8% compared to the same week in 2015.

Norfolk Southern Corp.'s coal shipment volumes totaled 18,067 carloads for the week, also up from last week's 15,573 carloads and surged 24.5% compared to the same week a year ago.

Kansas City Southern Railway Co.'s latest weekly coal shipment volume showed 3,559 carloads, down from 4,150 carloads the previous week. The railroad serves 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

Coal output recovers YOY, YTD

U.S. coal production posted a consecutive year over year increase for the second week of 2017. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. coal production for the week ended Jan. 14 climbed 13.4% year over year to 15.7 million tons, compared to 13.9 million tons during the same period last year.

However, for the 52 weeks ended Jan. 14, production continued with its downtrend, after it posted a 15.4% year-over-year decrease to roughly 751.2 million tons, while year-to-date coal output recovered 9.2% year over year to about 29.5 million tons through Jan. 14.

The Western region's coal production for the week reached 8.2 million tons, rising 11.9% year-over-year from the prior year's 7.4 million tons. Data for the Western region covers Powder River Basin mines.

Coal production from Appalachian mines totaled 4.0 million tons, representing a 12.9% increase from the year-ago week's 3.6 million tons.

The interior region also showed strength, after its production climbed 17.4% to 3.5 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.