Rail Facts

Canada’s railway sector is globally competitive, sustainable, and most importantly, safe. Working closely with customers and communities, Canadian railways move close to 82 million people and nearly 70 per cent of all intercity surface goods in Canada each year, relieving road congestion and limiting harmful emissions. 

Powering the Economy

  • Canada's railway network is the fifth largest in the world.
  • Canada’s railways handle the fourth largest volume of goods in the world.
  • Canada’s railways move roughly half of Canada’s exports (by volume)
  • Private railway companies in Canada are owned directly by tens of thousands of investors – including thousands of railway employees – and indirectly by millions of ordinary Canadians, through savings and pension plans.
  • Canada’s railways paid more than $1.4 billion in fuel, property, sales and other forms of taxes in 2015.
  • Canada's railways paid more than $3.1 billion in wages and benefits in 2015.
  • In 2015, Canada's railways invested $1.8 billion in new capital programs to support growth and service improvements.

Helping Protect The Environment

  • Canada's railways conserve fuel, limit emissions and relieve highway congestion. Today's railways move one tonne of freight one kilometre for less than three cents.
  • Despite moving huge numbers of people and masses of goods each year, our railways produce less than 4 per cent of Canada's transportation-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Employing Canadians

  • Canada’s railways employed 32,958 people in 2015.
  • In 2015, the average annual wage per railway industry employee was $96,445.

Safe and Secure

  • Railways provide the safest means of ground transportation in Canada:
    • Canada’s railway industry has invested more than $20 billion since 1999 to ensure the safety of its infrastructure—including investments in innovative safety technologies.
    • In the last five years, the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) and its members have trained more than 26,000 railway employees, industrial plant personnel and first responders on dangerous goods handling and emergency response.
    • The railway industry moves 99.999 per cent of dangerous goods to their destinations without a release resulting from an accident. Passenger rail also has an excellent safety record — with an accident rate of 0.81 incidents per million passengers in 2015.
  • Through Operation Lifesaver, an initiative that is co-funded by the RAC and Transport Canada, Canada’s railways are engaged in public information and education campaigns to reduce crossing and trespassing incidents.
  • Through the Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response (TRANSCAER®) initiative, RAC works with municipalities, emergency responders and residents in communities along transportation routes, to make sure they are informed about the products being moved through their area, and are prepared to respond to potential incidents involving dangerous goods.

Innovation, Making a Difference

Canada’s railways apply a number of innovative technologies to improve safety, and operational and fuel efficiency:

  • LED (light-emitting diode) technology and retro-reflective material to make railway crossing lights and warning signs more visible from further distances.
  • Strobe-light effects when trains are using crossings.
  • Digital technologies such as electronic data interchange (EDI), Internet applications and wireless communications to allow customers to place orders, check prices, trace cars, request plant switches, check bills, and perform various other functions in real-time.
  • Advanced security gamma-ray technology at borders to allow customs officials to see the contents of cars.
  • "Low idle" and automatic stop-start systems to increase fuel efficiency.
  • Rail lubrication technology that deposits a thin bead of lubricant on the rail as a train passes, to reduce friction, noise, wear and energy consumption.

©2017 The Railway Association of Canada. All rights reserved.

Interchange Magazine

Our quarterly magazine, Interchange, provides an in-depth perspective on the vast array of critically important issues facing our more than 50 freight and passenger railways and is an important link to our suppliers, customers, related industry associations, friends, allies, government officials and community leaders. We invite you to explore the newly designed RAC Interchange Magazine... MORE >