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Houston — A resilient export market continued to drive CSX's coal business in the second quarter and has led the railroad to improve its outlook on year-end seaborne volumes, according to company officials.

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The export coal market "remains strong" and CSX now expects to ship around 30 million st this year, up from an estimate in the mid-20 million st range in April, CFO Frank Lonegro said during an earnings call Tuesday. The company transported 25.7 million st of export coal in 2016.

The railroad saw an increase in seaborne metallurgical tons during Q2 despite a 500,000 st dip in total export volumes from the first three months of the year. CSX shipped 8.2 million st of export coal in the quarter, which included 6 million met tons, up from 5.3 million met tons in Q1.

Fredrik Eliasson, CSX's chief sales and marketing officer, added that higher export met coal prices were a key factor in maintaining a strong coal revenue per coal unit of $2,548, up $2 from the first quarter, as thermal shipments added negative mix. Domestic utility coal volumes were flat quarter over quarter at 11 million st.

Eliasson noted that coal RPU will "moderate sequentially" this year as global prices come down.

Overall, the railroad had $530 million in coal revenues in the second quarter and shipped 23.6 million st, up from $522 million in revenues in the first quarter with shipments of 23.2 million st.

--Jim Levesque,

--Edited by Richard Rubin,