From the 18xx list:
What happened was the coal private hadn't been bought in anywhere, so nothing was claimed, until the 12H was bought and all privates closed.
We were reading from the DTG rules, rather than 0.99 prototype rules which are organized and worded a bit differently. The rules state the coal tokens can be claimed during a company's operating round if connected by a route, which seems to imply at any time, including after train purchase. However there is also a sentence stating that coal tokens may (but not explicitly only at this time) be claimed after a track lay.
So, it seems ambiguous if the company that bought the first 12H would then immediately be able to claim those connected tokens. We ended up playing that the next operating company, which was connected to the same tokens, was able to claim them instead. Any ideas?
The designer answered:
The intent is that the coal token is done after track placement, so no, the company buying the 12H does not get coal tokens.