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Moving Canada Forward: Rail Trends 2022

OTTAWA – December 23, 2022 – Today, the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) released the 30th edition of the Rail Trends report – a rolling, 10-year review of financial and statistical results.

“This report underscores that rail is a backbone of Canada’s economy and a strong and healthy link in Canadian supply chains,” says Marc Brazeau, the RAC’s President and CEO. “Moving $350 billion dollars in goods and getting tens of millions of passengers where they need to be, Canada’s railways are the cheapest, safest, and best performing in North America and truly world-class – exactly as Canadians expect and deserve.”

For three decades and counting, the RAC has reported annually on Canada’s rail industry. This year’s edition reflects multiple aspects of railway performance in Canada over the 2012 to 2021 period.

Highlights include:

  • Canadian freight railways transported half of our country’s exports in 2021, and a total of $350 billion worth of goods.
  • Canadian port dwell times increased by 42% since 2019, to an average of 104 hours in 2021. Despite the challenges, Canada’s Class 1 railways managed to maintain an average terminal dwell time of just 7.6 hours.
  • In 2021, prices for most goods and services increased, many significantly. Despite strong inflationary pressures, railways were a source of stability, as they maintained competitive freight rates throughout 2021. In fact, Canadian rail freight rates remained lower than rates in the U.S. and were amongst the lowest in the world.
  • Railways set another consecutive record in the safe transportation of dangerous goods – reducing the dangerous goods accident rate by 6.9% compared to 2020. In 2021, the total number of railway accidents was 2.6% below the 2016-2020 average.
  • Freight fuel efficiency improved by 1.2% to 704 revenue ton-miles per gallon – setting another consecutive record. Total rail industry fuel consumption was 2.8% below 2020 levels and 5.5% below the 2016-2020 average.
  • In 2021, railways invested $2.3 billion into their Canadian assets, bringing the total to $20.9 billion over the past 10 years.
  • RAC members also contributed over $1.9 billion in various taxes to Canadian governments, bringing the total to $16.9 billion over the past decade.
  • Employment increased by 3.0%, or 997 jobs, to 34,318 employees. The average wage in the industry increased by 1.3%, to $102,160.

The data in Rail Trends is reported by RAC members companies: Class 1 and shortline freight railways, as well as tourist, inter-city and commuter passenger railways.

The full Rail Trends report is available here . Data for 2022 will be covered in next year’s report.


About the Railway Association of Canada
The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) represents close to 60 freight and passenger railway companies that transport tens of millions of passengers and approximately $350 billion worth of goods in Canada 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.

Data Contact:
Jonathan Thibault
Manager, Economics, Data and Research

Media Contact:
Chris Day