Carnahan said coal accounts for more than one fourth of all rail shipments on CSX, and said coal shipments are down 13 percent this year, and are expected to fall 17 percent next year.
"We are struggling with the coal industry right now, because of natural gas prices," he said, noting that many coal-fired power plants have converted to lower-cost natural gas.
"We don't foresee those natural gas prices rebounding to the point where plants would go back to burning coal," he said.
Quinn stressed that, compared to other industries, railroads have extremely high capital expenditures, and are constantly repairing or replacing tracks, ties, ballast, signals and rolling stock.
Norfolk Southern had net operating income of just over $2 billion last year, but spent $2.2 billion upgrading track and equipment, he said.
"We are one of the most capital-intensive industries in the country," he said.
Both men said West Virginia's property tax assessments are at the "high end of the reasonable range," and higher than other states the railroads serve.
State Property Tax Division Director Jeff Amburgy said the Tax Division would prepare a memorandum for the board responding to the three appeals.
The Board of Public Works will vote to approve 2013-14 property valuations for all utilities operating in the state on Dec. 3.
Barring adjustments based on the appeals, that amount will total nearly $9 billion, up $515 million from last year.
Under state law, the board -- made up of the governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and state superintendent of schools -- must approve annual property valuations for all utilities operating in the state, including water, natural gas, electric and telephone companies, as well as railroads.
Reach Phil Kabler at ph...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.