Coal Traffic Decline Seen by Report

Although coal traffic has enjoyed a renaissance of late, it is not expected to last a research report indicated.

As reported on the website of Trains magazine, the report by Wolfe Research said a wave of retirements of coal-fired power plants is expected to reduce rail coal traffic.

Those retirements are expected to accelerate in 2025 and continue through the second half of the current decade.

The Wolfe report said about 23 percent of coal-fired electricity generating capacity will be retired over the next five years. That is expected to result in a 12.1 percent drop in Class I coal traffic by 2026.

In recent months rail coal traffic has ticked upward due to low stockpiles at power plants and high natural gas prices. Industry analysts expect that to continue into next year.

The Wolfe report noted that 70 power-plant retirement dates have already been announced. About three-quarters of those plants use coal mined in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana.

CSX is expected to lose 11.8 percent of its coal traffic while Norfolk Southern will lose 5.5 percent, the Wolfe report said.

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