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US weekly coal carloads drop to seven-week low: AAR

US coal carload originations fell to a seven-week low of 54,496 in the week ended Feb. 13, down 9.3% from a week earlier, according to a Feb. 17 report from the Association of American Railroads.

The latest week was also down 13.6% from the year-ago week and 31.6% lower than the five-year average. It was also the lowest total for the corresponding week in over 11 years.

Coal carloads represented 11.3% of all the traffic on US railways, down from 12.1% a week earlier and 13.4% in the year-ago week.

Since Jan. 1, cumulative coal carloads are at 357,891, down 12% from the same period a year ago.

Coal originations on Canadian railroads — including the US operations of Canadian National, which serves several mines in the Illinois Basin — also fell to a four-month low 6,140 carloads, down 10.4% from a week earlier but 19.2% higher than the year-ago week. It was the lowest carloads since 6,137 in the week ended Oct. 17, 2020.

Of the four major Class I railroads — Norfolk Southern, CSX, Union Pacific and BNSF – only Union Pacific saw a weekly increase, while CSX was the only one with a year-on-year increase.

BNSF reported a seven-month low of 22,542 coal carload originations and interchanges in the latest week, down 18.5% from the prior week and 25.6% lower than in the year-ago week, according to rail-reported data. It was the lowest weekly total since 22,221 in the week ended July 11, 2020.

So far in 2021, total BNSF carloads are at 159,900, down 14.7% from the same period a year earlier.

Union Pacific reported 12,298 coal carload movements in the most recent week, up 0.1% from the previous week but 19.3% lower year on year.

Cumulative coal carloads so far in 2021 for UP are at 75,926, down 17.9% from the same period a year ago.

CSX coal carloads declined to 12,406, down 1.8% from a week earlier but 4.2% higher than the year-ago week.

Since Jan. 1, CSX coal carloads have totaled 75,877, down 4.5% from a year ago.

Norfolk Southern reported a six-week low 10,667 coal cars loaded in the latest week, down 12.3% from the prior week and 4% lower on the year.

Total coal carloads for NS are at 71,707 since Jan. 1, down 6.3% from the same period a year ago.
Source: Platts

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