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Independent report confirms Canada’s freight railways are among world’s lowest cost to shippers

OTTAWA – February 13, 2023  – A leading independent global transportation consulting firm, CPCS, says Canada’s rail freight rates are the lowest of major market-based economies in the world it surveyed, including the United States.

The findings, contained in a new CPCS report entitled International Comparison of Rail Freight Rates, concluded that Canada’s average rail freight rate is 11% lower than that of the U.S.

Using publicly available data, the study, which surveyed 11 countries representing two-thirds of global GDP, finds Canadian rates are significantly lower than those of market-based economies in Europe and Asia – all of them leading trading nations like Canada.

“We’ve known for a long time that Canada’s freight railways are the safest in North America. They are also the most cost effective on the continent and have among the lowest rates in the world,” says Marc Brazeau, President and CEO of the Railways Association of Canada (RAC).

Brazeau adds: “Canada’s railways are providing world-leading value to their customers and all Canadians. Our very efficient and highly competitive freight rail system is delivering industry-leading safety performance, high levels of private-sector capital investment, and pioneering innovation, at virtually the lowest cost to shippers anywhere in the world. This is an incredible advantage for the Canadian economy that should not be jeopardized by more government regulation.”

The CPCS study compared railway freight rates across 11 countries, including Canada, all of which are home to high-performing rail systems. Here’s what the report found:

  • In 2021, shippers paid 4.16 U.S. cents per revenue ton-mile on railways in Canada and Western grain shippers paid nearly 30 percent less than the average rate at just 2.97 U.S. cents per revenue ton-mile.
  • Canadian rail freight rates have grown more slowly than U.S. rates — 43% vs. 72% — over the last 33 years and at less than half the rate of commodity and general prices over that same period.

Brazeau underscores: “Now more than ever, we need to keep our rail system healthy and strong. We need to promote policies that encourage private-sector investment to build capacity and deliver for Canada’s economy. More government regulation will only add complexity, create chokepoints, and drive-up costs for shippers and consumers alike.”

Read the full report here.

About the Railways Association of Canada:

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) represents close to 60 railway companies and 60 associate members (suppliers, consultants, etc.). Our freight railways transport $350 billion worth of goods across our country and to global market each year. RAC advocates on behalf of its members and associate members to ensure that the rail sector remains globally competitive, sustainable and, most importantly, safe. Learn more at www.railcan.ca.

Media Contact:
Chris Day