Coal traffic continues to slump, according to railroad figures

The American Association of Railroads (AAR) has released its commodity traffic reports for the week ended Feb. 27 and there continues to be a decreasing amount of coal moving on the nation’s rails.

Commodities that saw declines in February 2016 from February 2015 included: coal, down 27.3% or 112,620 carloads; petroleum and petroleum products, down 20.8% or 11,720 carloads; and metallic ores, down 25.3% or 4,944 carloads.

For the week ended Feb. 27, AAR reported U.S. coal traffic of roughly 74,500 cars. While that was still the largest traffic line item recorded by AAR, the weekly coal figure was still 25% less than the same week in 2015, according to the data.

In 2015, coal represented 18.3% or 5,128,418 carloads of U.S. rail traffic.

Excluding coal, carloads were up 0.4% or 2,488 carloads from February 2015.

“The economy is still giving off a lot of mixed signals, and rail traffic is too.  Coal carloads remain very troubling, intermodal is doing well, and the other rail traffic categories are somewhere in between,” said AAR Senior Vice President John T. Gray.

Total U.S. carload traffic for the first two months of 2016 was 1,947,084 carloads, down 13.5% or 302,879 carloads, while intermodal containers and trailers were 2,088,747 units, up 8% or 154,301 containers and trailers when compared to the same period in 2015.

For the first two months of 2016, total rail traffic volume in the United States was 4,035,831 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.6% or 148,578 carloads and intermodal units from the same point last year.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at