COAL: Ancient Gift Serving Modern Man
American Coal Foundation
Moving Coal to Market
Nearly 60 percent of all coal produced moves by railroad from mine to user. A large percentage is transported in "unit trains" -- 100 or more cars that can be loaded and unloaded automatically. Coal makes up a substantial part of the major railroads' freight business. The fortunes of the two industries are closely linked.
The next most significant mode of transportation for coal is the nation's inland waterways system. One in every five tons of coal mined is transported by barge, accounting for nearly a fourth of all barge business on the nation's 25,000 miles of inland waterways. Only petroleum products account for a larger percentage.
Smaller amounts of coal move by truck and by conveyor directly from mine to power plant. In one case, coal from a mine in Arizona is pulverized and mixed with water to form a slurry, then pumped 273 miles through an underground pipeline to a power plant in Nevada.