Coal higher in weekly carloads

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
coal export

Photo: Peabody Energy Inc.

Higher export shipments helped drive Class I coal carloads higher in the latest week, according to the Association of American Railroads.

For the week ending April 7, total U.S. rail traffic was 524,905 carloads and intermodal units, up 3.8% compared with the same week in 2017.

Volume totaled 261,898 carloads, up 4.6%, while intermodal volume was 263,007 containers and trailers, up 3.1% from a year ago.

Five of the 10 carload commodity groups posted an increase including coal, 8.7%; metallic ores and metals, 11.6%, and chemicals, 6.8%.

While production of U.S. coal was 1.2% weaker in the fourth quarter of 2017 from the previous quarter, according to the most recent data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, exports increase 14.5% in that same period.

Commodity groups that were weaker on-year included motor vehicles and parts, 4.2%; nonmetallic minerals, 1.6%, and miscellaneous carloads, 3.5%.

For the first 14 weeks of 2018, U.S. railroads reported cumulative volume of 3,558,097 carloads, up 0.1% from the same point a year ago, and 3,759,388 intermodal units, up 5.3%. Total combined U.S. traffic for the first 14 weeks was 7,317,485 carloads and intermodal units, an increase of 2.7%.

North American rail volume for the week on 12 reporting U.S., Canadian and Mexican railroads totaled 365,482 carloads, up 4.3%, and 349,005 intermodal units, up 4.2%. Total combined weekly rail traffic in North America was 714,487 carloads and intermodal units, a gain of 4.3%. North American rail volume for the first 14 weeks of 2018 was 9,864,299 carloads and intermodal units, up 2.5% from 2017.

Canadian railroads reported 83,042 carloads for the week, up 6.5%, and 69,295 intermodal units, up 10.7%. For the first 14 weeks of this year, Canadian railroads reported cumulative volume of 2,016,093 carloads, containers and trailers, up 3%.

Mexican railroads reported 20,542 carloads for the week, off 6.3%, and 16,703 intermodal units, down 2.9%. Cumulative volume on Mexican railroads for the first 14 weeks of 2018 was 530,721 carloads and intermodal containers and trailers, down 1.9% on-year.

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