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US coal carload volumes totaled 85,939 in the week ended March 17, up 2.7% from a week earlier and 11.3% higher year on year, the Association of American Railroads said Wednesday.

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It was the fourth straight week-on-week increase and also the fourth straight occurrence to outpace both 2016 and 2017.

Since January 1, US coal carloads have totaled 918,975, down 1.9% from the same period in 2017.

Of the total traffic on US railways, 16% were coal carloads, up from 15.7% a week earlier, but down from 16.6% in the same period a year earlier.

Coal originations on Canadian railroads -- including the US operations of Canadian National, which serves several mines in the Illinois basis, and Canadian Pacific -- were at a 2018-high 7,604 carloads during the week, up 3.6% from the previous week and 12.3% on the year.

Of the four major Class I railroads, Norfolk Southern saw the biggest year-on-year increase with a 2018-high 20,943 carloads in the latest week, up 15.8% on the year. It was the largest weekly carload total since 20,953 were reported in the week ended May 27, 2017.

Coal carload volumes made up 13.5% of the total Norfolk Southern traffic in the latest week, up from 11.9% a week earlier, and the highest share total since 14.3% in the week ended September 9, 2017.

--Tyler Godwin,

--Edited by Kevin Saville,