An article in the Financial Times quotes Hunter Harrison, CEO of CSX, a freight railroad company, that the business of hauling coal by rail is in decline. He stated:
“Fossil fuels are dead, that’s a long-term view. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to be in two or three years. But it’s going away, in my view.” He also said that he would not be buying a single new locomotive to haul coal trains, or add any extra tracks for coal freight.
A recent report from the Association of American Railroads states that coal represents 31.6 percent of all tonnage hauled on US Class I railroads, and provided 13.9 percent of rail revenues.
In the US, contrary to most countries, the Trump administration is pushing for a revival of coal, by easing environmental regulations, but it would seem that a lot of the damage to the coal industry has already been done, with more power stations moving to natural gas, and the increased use of wind and solar.
The consequences of a coal’s decline are not limited to the the mining industry only; from Hunter Harrison’s comments, it appears that the rail industry is looking to adjust to a new reality.