UP rail loadings climb

COAL train loadings for major rail shipper Union Pacific have continued a months-long upward trend in November on increased shipments from the Southern Powder River Basin.
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Image courtesy of Union Pacific

Donna Schmidt

According to the company’s recently released monthly report, UP loaded 968 coal trains from the SPRB during the month, compared to 939 in November 2009.

Year-on-year, the company’s Class 1 averaged 32.3 trains daily, up from 31.1 daily.

Through November, UP logged 105 missed loading opportunities in the SPRB, just 19 of which were attributable to the company. Of the balance, 22 were due to mines and 64 were attributable to slow utility plant unloads.

The missed loads were more than made up by the company through 113 extra loadings during the month.

Conversely, loadings from UP’s other primary shipment area, the Colorado/Utah region, continued to decrease last month. The railroad loaded 189 trains in November, versus last November’s total of 245 trains.

In October, UP loaded 1031 coal trains in the SPRB, versus 894 trains in October 2009. It missed 101 loading opportunities, but just 13 were attributable to the railroad.

In the Colorado/Utah region, it recorded 206 loaded coal trains, a drop from 217 last October.

UP officials cited “sporadic production issues” on the North Fork branch and in Utah for the reductions in October and November.

UP’s operation area encompasses 23 US states in the western two-thirds of the country. It and Burlington Northern Santa Fe are the two largest western coalfields coal shippers.