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US coal rail traffic up 2.5% from year-ago week; production increases 6.2%

Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended Dec. 17 increased by 2.5% year over year to 87,219 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads. Meanwhile, year-to-date coal rail traffic is down 21% through the week.

The total rail traffic for the week was 523,949 carloads and intermodal units, down 0.3% compared with the same week last year.

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BNSF Railway Co. coal shipment volumes clocked in at 38,079 carloads in the week ended Dec. 17, down from last week's 38,576 carloads but up 2.7% compared to the year-ago week.

Union Pacific Corp.'s coal shipment volumes this week were at 21,238 carloads, down from 23,323 carloads last week and 11.0% depressed compared to last year's weekly volume.

Eastern railroad CSX Transportation Inc.'s shipment volumes of coal stood at 17,923 carloads, up from the last week's 17,589 carloads and up 20.6% compared to the same week in 2015.

Norfolk Southern Corp.'s coal shipment volumes totaled 18,788 carloads for the week, up from last week's 17,054 carloads and up 3.8% compared to the same week a year ago.

Kansas City Southern Railway Co.'s latest weekly coal shipment volume showed 4,294 carloads, up from 4,138 carloads the previous week. The railroad serves 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

U.S. coal output up 6.2% YOY

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. coal production for the week increased by 6.2% year over year to 15.7 million tons, compared to 14.8 million tons during the same period last year.

For the 52 weeks ended Dec. 17, production was reported at approximately 731.4 million tons, representing a 19.1% year-over-year cutback, while year-to-date coal output collapsed 18.5% year over year to about 711.1 million tons through Dec. 17.

The western region's coal production for the week reached 8.8 million tons, and posted a 1.3% year-over-year increase from the prior year's 8.7 million tons. Data for the Western region covers Powder River Basin mines.

Coal production from Appalachian mines totaled 3.8 million tons, up by 9% from the year-ago week's 3.4 million tons.

It was another good week for the interior region, after its production rose 18.1% to 3.2 million tons, compared to 2.7 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.