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Rail Congestion Curbs Coal Shipments

Department of Energy EIA

Arch Coal executives expressed frustration with the nation’s two biggest railroads during a conference call with investors Tuesday. Coal shipments out of the Powder River Basin have been delayed in recent months because of congestion on the BNSF and Union Pacific main lines. Arch Coal CEO John Eaves said it’s hurting the company’s earnings.

“If you look back over the last two quarters, we’ve been impacted between 4 and 5 million tons between the fourth quarter and first quarter," Eaves said. "So it’s certainly been impactful. We’re looking forward to better performance and we expect to see that, particularly in the back half of the year.”

The railroads have said previously that increased shipment of crude oil by rail and severe winter weather are largely responsible for the congestion problems. As a result of the delayed shipments, some coal-fired power plants are running on critically low reserves.

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