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A soon-to-be-released report on further reducing Canadian rail’s carbon footprint is a potent signal that the rail sector’s 26-year-old memorandum of understanding (MoU) with regulator Transport Canada continues to produce generational results.

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) partnered with Transport Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Natural Resources Canada, the Delphi Group and Pollution Probe to produce Towards Net Zero: Developing a Rail Decarbonization Roadmap for Canada. A product of the Rail Pathways Initiative, the report lays out the opportunities and challenges involved in getting to net-zero by 2050.

While the report is set to be released later this spring, RAC lead Ben Chursinoff provided subscriber-exclusive details.

“We’re moving beyond efficiencies to informed decision-making on new technologies,” says Chursinoff. “For example, going beyond operational efficiencies  towards use of more  renewable fuels and, ultimately, to things like alternate propulsion technologies.”

He adds: “It’s basically putting rail’s existing environmental advantage into overdrive while setting RAC members up for sustainable business success.”

Chursinoff says RAC’s Class One members are leading the way on business case development and proofs of concept, and he says all RAC members can benefit from those experiences.

“Canada has a natural advantage when it comes to things like rare-earth minerals needed for EV batteries,” says Chursinoff. “That could translate into a strong domestic market for battery manufacturing which coupled with existing leadership in hydrogen fuel cell technology, could make Canada a world class leader for the resources and technology needed to reach net-zero.”

Chursinoff says priorities have been shifting towards environmental sustainability for a while now, and that could mean big returns on RAC members’ investments in research and development.

“Canadian railroaders are committed to staying ahead of the world and global trends, and all Canadians stand to benefit economically and environmentally,” Chursinoff.

Towards Net Zero is set to go to a steering committee for final approval shortly. The report will be released publicly soon thereafter.