Shortline Railways: A Critical Role

Canada’s supply chain consists of multimodal transport options (aviation, marine, rail, and truck) that each play a significant role in the safe and efficient movement of goods. Recent global disruptions (e.g., COVID-19), and domestic disruptions (e.g., climate disasters such as wildfires and floods) have highlighted the critical nature of the supply chain to Canada’s economic well-being.

Disruptions at one point in the supply chain can cause a ripple effect on the entire chain. In 2022, the consequences of supply chain disruptions provide evidence for how valuable well-functioning supply chains are to Canada’s economic prosperity as a trading nation.   

Much attention is given to dwell times at ports and other indicators of supply chain efficiency. However, a valuable but perhaps lesser understood component of the supply chain is the shortline railway sector, which for the most part provides first mile/last mile connectivity to customers and industries that are often located in rural and remote settings. In many cases, local businesses would not exist or could not survive without access to shortline freight rail services.