uploads///BNSF Carloads

BNSF Railway: Did Coal Push Volumes in Week 23?

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Jun. 21 2017, Updated 10:37 a.m. ET

BNSF Railway’s carloads

A Western United States behemoth, BNSF Railway (BRK-B) is owned by Berkshire Hathaway. BNSF Railway’s total railcars for the week ended June 10, 2017, grew 7.7% YoY (year-over-year) to ~94,000 units, compared to ~87,000 units in the corresponding week of 2016.

The company’s carloads minus coal and coke also rose 7.7% YoY to ~59,000 units in the week ended June 10, 2017. The rise in BNSF Railway’s overall carloads, in percentage terms, was almost equal to the overall rise reported by US railroads.

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BNSF Railway’s coal volumes

BNSF Railway saw its coal and coke freight volumes rise 7.7% YoY in week 23 of 2017. BNSF’s rise in coal and coke carloads, in percentage terms, was far lower than rival Union Pacific (UNP). Coal transportation accounts for nearly 21.0% of BNSF’s total freight revenues in 1Q17.

For BNSF Railway, coal volumes rose 18% in 1Q17 on a year-over-year basis due to mild winter weather in 1Q16. Increased natural gas prices (UNG) in 1Q17 also led to the higher usage of utility coal (ANR) (ARLP). However, these volumes were offset by the effects of retiring coal power plants.

Change in commodity groups

The advancing commodity groups in the week ended June 10, 2017, were:

  • metallic ores
  • iron and steel scrap
  • non-metallic minerals
  • motor vehicles

Commodity groups that reported major fall in volumes were petroleum, forest products, non-metallic minerals, and pulp and paper.

Next, we’ll review BNSF Railway’s intermodal traffic in week 23.

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