Casper, WY (AP) - Congested rail lines have slowed shipments of Powder River Basin coal in the first quarter of this year, hurting the profit margins of several mining firms.
Officials say the shipping problems are expected to continue into the latter half of this year as utilities clamor to replace the coal stockpiles burned off during one of the coldest winters in recent memory.
The problems are particularly acute for mines along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe's northern route out of the Powder River Basin where increased rail shipments of Bakken oil is a major factor.
BNSF spokesman Matthew Jones tells the Casper Star-Tribune that the railroad is working to alleviate the congestion by adding extra crews and equipment and investing $900 million in upgrades along its northern corridor.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.