April 18, 2017 - In another positive sign for the Southwest Virginia and Southern West Virginia, Norfolk Southern announced last week that the railroad will continue to use both thermal and metallurgical coal.
The announcement was made by NS Chief Marketing Officer Alan Shaw at the National Coal Transportation Association Conference. S&P Global Platts, an energy price assessment and reporting agency, told the Register-Herald in Beckley that Norfolk Southern made cuts to its use of coal from Central Appalachia over the past few years but the company is now reinvesting in coal as the markets improve.
According to S&P, an uptick in the U.S. coal industry over the past year has led to increased revenue for the railroad.
In fact, Norfolk Southern coal volumes increased 21.9 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same time frame in 2016. That’s 245,771 carloads up from 201,671.
While more coal is once again moving through the Norfolk Southern railyard in Bluefield, the largest spike in volume to date has been seen in the Norfolk, Va., area where Norfolk Southern is headquartered. In Norfolk, the amount of coal loaded onto trains was up 47.1 percent from the first quarter a year ago.
Shaw says with the recent market improvements, all 21,000 units in the railroad’s fleet are now on the tracks.
This is excellent news for both the railroad and Southwest Virginia and Southern West Virginia.
While we believe it is imperative for area leaders to focus on diversifying our regional economy, we also can’t ignore our past. And the region’s history is directly linked to the railroad and coal industries. Thus a strong Norfolk Southern railyard is still critical to Bluefield’s future. That’s why we are glad to hear that the recent uptick in the U.S. coal industry over the past year has led to increased revenue for the railroad.