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View Diary: The rage of a dying dinosaur: coal declines in United States (101 comments)

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  •  Sadly one of our cleanest transportation (11+ / 0-)

    industries (railroads and companies like CSX) are also big supporters of coal. Since coal is one of the most shipped commodities in this country via rail.  

    Love will save you from the cold light of boring reality... But it won't save me -- SWANS

    by jethrock on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 03:48:48 PM PDT

    •  44% of all tonage on Class I rails is coal (12+ / 0-)

      With less dependence on coal, railroads are starting to notice. There was some interesting statements from Norfolk Southern's CEO earlier this month on coal.

      Railway Age: Moorman: Putting coal in perspective

      There's no question about the importance of coal to the railroads. It has recently accounted for 44% of U.S. Class I railroad tonnage, 24.1% of carloads, and 24.2% of revenue. A mild winter coupled with abundant and cheap natural gas has led to a sharp decline in coal traffic—it was down 16% in the week ended May 10 and coke was down 9%.

      Financial analysts seeking to put this sobering news into the contest of the overall traffic picture received some help Tuesday from Norfolk Southern CEO Wick Moorman, who told CNBC: "Coal is such an important part of our business that it obviously gets a lot of focus, but I do tend to think today people are probably looking a little too hard at coal, and not seeing all of these other good things that are going on."

      NS may be thinking how the railroad will be profitable if it loses a huge chunk of their business.
      •  Yup. Maybe they should consider transporting (17+ / 0-)

        more people?

        Love will save you from the cold light of boring reality... But it won't save me -- SWANS

        by jethrock on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 04:31:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, and electrify their lines to free themselves (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joieau, jethrock

          from ever more expensive oil.

          Renewable energy brings national global security.     

          by Calamity Jean on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 11:39:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  ELECTRIFY? (0+ / 0-)

            Electricity produced using WHAT? And how much more would be needed if they did?

            Not to mention the energy, financial and materials costs of building the extra generation capacity.

            Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

            by Deep Dark on Fri Jun 22, 2012 at 01:45:16 PM PDT

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            •  Wind and solar power. (0+ / 0-)
              Electricity produced using WHAT?
              Start with the most heavily used sections, and expand as power becomes available.  When trains brake, regenerated power could be fed back into the line to be reused.  Using renewable electricity for train power could help overcome the "intermittent" nature of wind and sun that so many are worried about.  If the power supply is reduced because of cloudiness or lack of wind, low-priority freight could be parked on a siding to cut power usage.  Passenger trains and perishable freight would continue to move.  

              Renewable energy brings national global security.     

              by Calamity Jean on Sat Jun 23, 2012 at 08:10:53 PM PDT

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              •  CJ (0+ / 0-)

                Its a good try, but have you done the calcs for how many wind towers you need to power even one train and what are the financial, energy, materials and time costs of building them?

                Electricity is a high grade energy, perfect for lights, computers and intermittent stuff but crap for heating, cooking and motive power. The energy losses (assuming renewable production) in transmission and conversion to mechanical movement are enormous.

                Regenerative braking would help, but the biggest problem is getting a couple of thousand tonnes moving in the first place. You need to be able to apply massive levels of force for the first couple of minutes and the grid has to be able to sustain that. Stopping a train for a couple of hours might not even save any net energy.

                It works over compact networks or in places like underground where fumes are a problem, but long distance electrification, I seriously doubt the economics of it under any scheme.

                Add to that the rising cost of all energy and the imminent failure of the gas market and all of the factors, energy supply, time to production of new facilities and financial resources are all against it.

                Until inauguration day The USA is in the greatest danger it has ever experienced.

                by Deep Dark on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 01:22:01 PM PDT

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          •  The diesels (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jethrock, JeffW

            for all kinds of shipping - rail, truck and ship - could be using biodiesel if we developed the ag/recycling and production infrastructure. Thereby cutting petroleum consumption for shipping by the percentage - 20% to 50% with little to no retrofitting of seals and injectors, 100% if those are done.

        •  And lots more (0+ / 0-)

          general freight. Semis are not very efficient ways to ship goods to across country.

      •  How about improving intermodal service? (7+ / 0-)

        I am great at over-simplifying, but trains are WAY more efficient at moving freight than trucks. It seems like it wouldn't be too hard to get more semi-trailers onto rail cars for much of their journeys.

        Not to mention our roads have so many heavy trucks on them now, a lot of people still choose to drive big personal vehicles for improved safety.

        "Slavery is the legal fiction that a person is property. Corporate personhood is the legal fiction that property is a person." David Korten, When Corporations Rule the World

        by Delta Overdue on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 10:40:21 PM PDT

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      •  If my back of the envelope calcs were correct (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RLMiller, Magnifico, Calamity Jean, Joieau

        a couple of years ago, I did a quick calc that showed that there is actually more oil "in the grid" coming from trains moving coal than there is in oil-fired electricity generation. There were about equal with trains having a slight edge.

    •  Warren Buffet bought his railroad precisely b/c .. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jethrock, Magnifico, Larsstephens

      ..of coal exports overseas.

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project. www.hamiltonproject.org

      by PatriciaVa on Thu Jun 21, 2012 at 04:36:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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