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Rail News: Maintenance Of Way

AAR: Railroads help utilities stock up on near-record amounts of coal

In recent years, U.S. railroads have spent billions to expand their coal-carrying capacity — and those investments are paying off. Heading into the winter heating season late last year, electric utility coal stockpiles stood at near-record levels, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).

In November, utilities reported 154.9 million tons of coal on hand, a 10.3 percent increase compared with November 2006. The last time stockpiles reached that level: the beginning of winter 1991, when utilities had 157 million tons of coal on hand.

AAR officials attribute the steep stockpiles to railroads’ efforts to purchase additional locomotives and rail cars, and expand track capacity. And there are projects under way to add triple and quadruple track in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, so railroads will be able to haul even more coal in the future, the AAR said.

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More News from 2/26/2008