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Continued strength in the crude oil and domestic intermodal sectors helped BNSF Railway Co. offset weak grain traffic and boost revenue in the third quarter, according to a 3Q performance summary recently posted on the Class I's website.BNSF's traffic increased 5 percent to 2.6 million carloads compared with third-quarter 2012's total. Industrial products volume climbed 9 percent to 485,000 units; consumer products volume rose 6 percent to 1.3 million units; coal volume increased 5 percent to 605,000 units; and agricultural products volume declined 5 percent to 239,000 units.The Class I's total quarterly freight revenue increased 5 percent to $5.4 billion, while total operating revenue rose 6 percent to $5.6 billion, the summary states.By sector:• industrial products revenue jumped 12 percent to $1.5 billion primarily because of increased petroleum product shipments driven by increased crude unit-train loadings;• consumer products revenue climbed 6 percent to $1.8 billion primarily due to higher domestic intermodal volumes as a result of highway-to-rail conversions;• coal revenue rose 5 percent to $1.3 billion primarily because of increased demand resulting from higher natural gas prices and reduced utility stockpiles; and• ag products revenue fell 5 percent to $845 million due to lower grain exports as a result of the extreme U.S. drought in 2012 and strong global competition.Via the summary, BNSF also reported that 3Q operating income increased 4 percent to $1.7 billion, net income climbed 6 percent to $989 million, operating expenses rose 6 percent to $3.9 billion and operating ratio inched up 0.3 points to 68.6 versus the same 2012 period.An operating expenses breakdown shows that fuel costs rose 5 percent to $1.1 billion, compensation and benefits costs increased 4 percent to $1.2 billion, and purchased services costs ratcheted up 3 percent to $618 million. The price of locomotive fuel per gallon increased 1 percent in the third quarter, the summary states.
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