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US coal rail traffic, production continue to post slim decreases in latest week

Total U.S. coal rail traffic for the week ended Feb. 10 slipped 4.2% year over year to 85,591 carloads, according to data from the Association of American Railroads.

Year-to-date coal rail traffic declined 5.5% through the week, while total rail traffic for the week increased 1.6% year over year to 519,545 carloads and intermodal units.

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BNSF Railway Co.'s coal shipment volumes clocked in at 35,290 carloads in the week ended Feb. 10, down 10.9% from last week's 39,620 carloads and down 8.7% compared to 38,661 carloads the year-ago week.

Union Pacific Corp.'s coal shipment volumes this week were at 22,949 carloads, down 2.9% from 23,639 carloads last week and 8.6% depressed compared to last year's weekly volume of 25,104 carloads.

Eastern railroad CSX Transportation Inc.'s shipment volumes of coal stood at 15,203 carloads, down 5.5% from last week's 16,080 carloads, and posted a decrease of 4.7% compared to 15,950 carloads the same week in 2017.

Norfolk Southern Corp.'s coal shipment volumes totaled 18,581 carloads for the week, up by less than 1% from last week's 18,446 carloads, and inched up 2.4% compared to 18,149 carloads of the same week a year ago.

Kansas City Southern Railway Co.'s latest weekly coal shipment volume showed 2,321 carloads, a slump of 27.3% from 3,192 carloads the previous week. The railroad serves 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

YTD coal output slides 7.7%

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. coal production for the week fell 6.6% year over year to 15.2 million tons, compared to 16.2 million tons during the same period last year.

For the 52 weeks ended Feb. 10, production was reported at 763.1 million tons, representing a 1.7% year-over-year recovery, while year-to-date coal output dropped 7.7% year over year to about 85.1 million tons.

The western region's coal production for the week reached 8.4 million tons and posted a 5.5% year-over-year contraction from the prior year's 8.9 million tons. Data for the Western region covers Powder River Basin mines.

Coal production from Appalachian mines totaled 4.0 million tons, sliding 5% from the year-ago week's 4.2 million tons.

The interior region's production fell 11.9% 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.