U.S. coal rail shipments down 20.4% during first 25 weeks of 2016

The amount of United States rail traffic involving coal was less than 4.03 million carloads during the first 25 weeks of 2016, according to the latest data from the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

That comes out to an average of 78,979 coal carloads per week, according to AAR.

AAR also reported that the domestic coal traffic for the week ended Dec. 24, 2016, was 84,518 carloads. That is actually 20% more than the same week in 2015, AAR said.

AAR did add something of a disclaimer about the Dec. 24 data. “Please note: Christmas Day is not included in the current week this year, but is included in the comparable week in 2015. Therefore, this week’s traffic volume is somewhat overstated compared to 2015,” AAR said in a Dec. 28 news release.

Despite its decline, coal is still the largest single commodity transported over U.S. railroads.

Across North America, there have been roughly 4.39 million carloads of coal transported by rail during the first 25 weeks of 2016. That comes out to a weekly average of 86,089  carloads, which is 19.8% less than the same 25 weeks in 2015.

During the week ended Dec. 24, there were 91,639 carloads of coal moving by rail in North America. That’s 18.9% more than in the same week in 2015 – given the AAR’s previously-stated stipulation.

Also the average per week figures may not sum to totals as a result of independent rounding, AAR said.


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 wayneb@pennwell.com.