Coal Under Fire

A large stake in the uncertain future of the energy industry and the coal trains that feed it is held by the public interest. Although it accounts for 40% of rail volume, coal provides only 20% of rail revenue. Despite this, coal traffic is a relatively low-cost business that provides baseload traffic that contributes toward support of system fixed costs. Coal may not remain the growth driver is has been in recent years, since global warming and emissions legislation is in process. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is rigid in its opposition to pending legislation, causing three major utilities - Exelon Corp., PG&E Corp., and PNM Resources Inc. - to resign from the chamber. The author predicts that railroads can depend on current business and on some growth from plants already under construction, but not on growth rates previously anticipated by utilities. Reduced coal traffic will also affect railroad demand for new rolling stock and locomotives. A short history of coal haulage, especially since the opening of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana, is given. When there is a greater degree of certainty about technology and timing, the future of the rail coal business and utility decisions on future generating station construction will be clearer.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Figures; Photos;
  • Pagination: pp 16-19, 37
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01154583
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 1 2010 3:58PM