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BNSF Railway Co.'s unit volume increases and higher revenue per car/unit helped drive growth in revenue, operating and net income in third-quarter 2017.BNSF's third-quarter 2017 total revenue rose 3 percent to $5.3 billion, operating income increased 4 percent to $1.95 billion and net income climbed 2 percent to $1.04 billion compared with the same period a year ago, according to parent company Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s third-quarter financial report.BNSF posted a third-quarter operating ratio of 62.2 percent, down from 62.7 percent in Q3 2016. The railroad's third-quarter operating expenses increased 2 percent to $3.4 billion compared with expenses in the year-ago period.Consumer product volumes in third quarter rose 7 percent compared with third-quarter 2016 due to higher domestic intermodal, international intermodal and automotive volumes. Those increases were attributed to improving economic conditions, normalizing of retail inventories, new services and higher market share.Also in Q3 industrial products volume increased 2 percent year over year primarily due to higher sand shipments and other commodities that support drilling. However, BNSF logged a 12 percent decline in agricultural product volumes during the quarter compared with a year ago. The decrease was driven by lower grain exports, partially offset by higher domestic grain.Meanwhile, BNSF's coal volumes were up 2 percent in third-quarter 2017 and 12 percent for the first nine months of 2017 compared with the year-ago periods. BNSF attributed those increases to higher natural gas prices, which led to increased usage in utility coal.
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