U.S. Rail Delays Pass Coal-Transport Business to Truckers

AKRON, OH- Truckers are making more frequent trips to U.S. coal-burning power plants because of a U.S.-wide rail bottleneck situation which has forced some of the plants to turn to trucks and barges for coal transportation.

 “We have been impacted by railroad performance but have been able to offset those shortfalls by utilizing truck and barge deliveries,” Stephanie Walton, a spokeswoman for FirstEnergy, whose nine coal-fired plants account for 57 percent of its capacity, told the Globe and Mail.

According to energy consultants Wood Mackenzie, about 40 percent of U.S. power comes from coal-burning plants and most of them rely on freight railroads to deliver the coal. But with the delays, power producers such as FirstEnergy are turning to alternative transport modes before winter comes- even if it costs more.

While transportation by barge is cheaper than by rail, not all plants are located near water, so the plants are turning to trucks- which are more costly- for their shipments of coal.

The other solution is intermodal shipment, which cuts costs for the plants, but the trucks still need to be called in.

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