NOTE: Figures, in thousand short tons, are for final delivery and do not reflect transloading to or from other modes during transit.
aThis category includes coal that is transported to plants that transform it into “synthetic” coal that is then distributed to the final end user—a substantial component goes to electricity generation plants.
SOURCE: EIA (2006g).
coal that was transloaded to rail, truck, or other transport modes before final delivery, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported that 223 million tons of domestic coal and coke were carried by water at some point in the transport chain in 2004 (USACE, 2006).
Coal transportation, especially by truck and rail, affects communities through which the coal passes. Trucks hauling coal have the potential to damage roads and cause deaths or injuries in accidents. Coal trains crossing local roads temporarily block those roads, adding traffic congestion and potentially delaying or degrading responses by police, fire, and other emergency responders and temporarily cutting off some residents from emergency services (e.g., see TVA, 2005).
TRANSPORTATION BY RAIL
Coal producers and users depend heavily on rail transportation (see Figure 5.1). In 2004, rail transported 64 percent of U.S. coal shipments to their final domestic destinations and 72 percent of coal delivered to power plants (EIA, 2006g; see Table 5.1). Under the EIA’s reference case forecast (EIA, 2006d), all transportation modes—particularly railroads—will be called on to transport more coal for longer distances to both existing and new markets. This forecast projects that Appalachian coal production will increase slightly (2 percent) between 2004 and 2030, production from the interior will increase by 135 million tons (92 percent), and production from the rail-dependent West will increase by 435 million tons (76 percent). Accordingly, future growth in coal use will depend on the availability of sufficient rail capacity to deliver increasing amounts of coal and on the railroad industry’s ability to do so reliably and at reasonable prices.