Houston — US coal carloads dropped to a 14-week low of 75,778 in the week ended April 14, down 7% from the previous week and the lowest since 69,973 carloads in the week ended January 6, the Association of American Railroads said Wednesday.
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The latest week was also 7.6% lower than 81,942 in the year-ago week and was the first time in eight weeks to fall below totals from the corresponding weeks in 2017.
The weekly carloads were also down 18.6% below the five-year average of 93,046.
Of the total traffic on US railways, coal carloads represented 14.2%, down from 15.5% a week earlier and the lowest since 14.1% in the week ended May 13, 2017.
Coal originations on Canadian railroads -- including the US operations of Canadian National, which serves several mines in the Illinois Basin -- fell 1.7% from the three-year high of 9,070 a week earlier, but only fell 0.1% from the year-ago week.
Of the four major Class I railroads, Norfolk Southern was the only one to see a week-on-week increase, jumping 7.5% to 20,336 in the latest week but falling 1.3% on the year. Since January 1, NS coal carloads have totaled 273,731, down 4.1% from the corresponding period in 2017, according to the railroad's data.
CSX fell to 14,836, down 12.2% from its season-high 17,935 a week earlier, the CSX weekly report showed. Cumulative carloads between January and mid-April were up 1.6% on the year at 224,714.
For the third consecutive week, both Union Pacific and BNSF saw weekly decreases and both dropped to season low totals.
Union Pacific reported a 20-month low of 17,223 coal carloads in the latest week, down 4% from the previous week and the lowest level since 14,777 in the week ended June 4, 2016. Cumulative UP totals were at 318,505, down 3.2% year on year.
BNSF saw 31,073 coal carloads, down 11.8% on the week and 15.3% lower than 36,673 reported in the year-ago week, according to the railroad's data. Cumulative BNSF coal carloads were at 535,776, down 2.8% from the year-ago period.
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