NORFOLK, Va. — Norfolk Southern hauled 49.67 million tons of coal in the third quarter of 2008, an all-time quarterly high driven by strong export demand and more shipments of domestic metallurgical coal.
Third-quarter 2008 coal tonnage increased 6 percent, up from 46.84 million tons during the same period last year. The previous record for any quarter was 49.27 million tons in second quarter 2008.
Even as it handles record coal amounts, Norfolk Southern has reduced the transit time of shipments over major coal lanes, with an 8.8 percent improvement for the first nine months of 2008.
“Faster transit times when tonnage is at record levels indicate a fluid rail network with capacity for growth,” said Donald W. Seale, Norfolk Southern executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “These results reflect Norfolk Southern’s continued commitment to satisfy customer demand with efficient, timely service.”
Norfolk Southern’s export coal tonnage in the third quarter of 2008 was up 55 percent over the same period last year, to 6.26 million tons from 4.05 million tons, the majority of it used to make coke for steel production. Tonnage of coal shipped through the Baltimore transloading operation increased 128 percent, to 1.45 million tons from 636,000 tons, while tonnage through the Pier 6 transloading facility at Norfolk, Va., rose 42 percent, to 4.81 million tons from 3.38 million tons.
“By September 6 of this year, tonnage moving over Pier 6 had exceeded the total handled there for all of 2007,” Seale said. “Even at this level, we have the capacity to double current volume, should coal supply and demand support that degree of increased activity.”
In the domestic steel-related market, including coke, iron ore, and metallurgical coal used to make coke, tonnage hauled by Norfolk Southern in third quarter 2008 increased 8 percent over the same period last year, to 5.24 million tons from 4.85 million tons.