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Week 18: US and Canadian Freight Rail Traffic Rises, Mexico Lags

PART:
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Part 8
Week 18: US and Canadian Freight Rail Traffic Rises, Mexico Lags PART 8 OF 14

BNSF Railway: Rise in Coal Volumes Pushed Carloads in Week 18

BNSF Railway’s carloads

BNSF Railway (BRK-B) operates in the Western United States and competes primarily with Union Pacific (UNP). Its total railcars for the week ended May 6, 2017, rose 11.3% YoY (year-over-year) to 88,600 units, compared with ~80,000 units in the corresponding week of 2016.

Carloads other than coal and coke rose 9.3% YoY to ~59,200 units in the week ended May 6, 2017. The rise in BNSF Railway’s overall carloads was higher than the overall rise reported by US railroad companies.

BNSF Railway: Rise in Coal Volumes Pushed Carloads in Week 18

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Coal’s importance to BNSF

BNSF Railway saw its coal and coke freight volumes rise 15.5% YoY in the 18th week of 2017, similar to the rise reported by rival UNP. Coal transportation accounts for nearly 21.0% of total freight revenues for BNSF Railway.

About 90.0% of BNSF’s coal originates from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana. Major coal producers operating in the area include Alpha Natural Resources (ANR) and Peabody Energy (BTU). Environmental concerns and competition from natural gas (UGAZ) hampered incremental coal shipment prospects for coal producers (ARLP) in 2016.

Commodity groups

The commodities that rose in the week ended May 6, 2017, were the following:

  • grain
  • food
  • sand and gravel
  • iron and steel scrap
  • metal
  • forest products

The main falling commodity groups were:

  • petroleum
  • grain mill
  • stone clay and glass
  • chemicals

In the next article, we’ll look at BNSF Railway’s intermodal traffic in the week ended May 6, 2017.

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