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LEM 2019: The Canadian Rail Industry – Reducing Emissions and Investing in Innovation

Ottawa, January 26, 2022 – Canada’s railways continued to make progress towards their greenhouse gas (GHG) emission targets, all while leading the way in the creation of green technology. The latest Locomotive Emissions Monitoring (LEM) report, released today by the Railway Association of Canada (RAC), documents emissions of GHGs and criteria air contaminants (CACs) from locomotives operating in Canada in 2019.

“Canadians have made it clear during this past election that climate change is on top of everyone’s mind. As a result, our members have been working hard to continue to lower emissions, all while finding innovative ways to transport people and goods from coast to coast to coast in a safe and resilient manner,” explains President and CEO Marc Brazeau. “Some of the data in this LEM report is but a snapshot of the hard work that has been done. The RAC is proud to say that Canada’s rail sector is indeed on the right track when it comes to sustainability for our industry and for Canada.”

“The Government of Canada is committed to achieving our climate goals. With the transportation sector representing a quarter of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions, we recognize the urgency to take bold action in the sector. As one of the cleanest and most efficient modes of transportation, rail is a key part of our plan to build a cleaner and more resilient economy,” said the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra.

In this edition of the LEM Report, we saw a growth in investing in new technologies and improving operational practices to reduce locomotive emissions. In fact, railways invested a record-breaking $3.1 billion into their Canadian networks in 2019. This investment included funds in fleet renewal, fuel saving technologies, employee training, use of low carbon fuels, and investments in equipment, infrastructure, and facilities.

Moreover, intercity passenger railways improved their GHG emissions intensity by 8.37%, beating the 2022 target. On the other hand, Regional & Shortline railways reduced their GHG emissions intensity by 1.72%. In fact, from 1990 to 2019, the emissions intensities of both freight railways and intercity passenger railways have improved by over 40%.

Lastly, Canadian railways added Tier 3 and Tier 4 locomotives to their fleets, as they retired 150 lower-tiered and non-tiered locomotives. As well, 2,969 locomotives were equipped with an anti-idling device.

The 2019 report was released under the current, 2018-2022 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between RAC and Transport Canada. This is the first report prepared under the current MOU. Industry-Government collaboration dates to 1995, when the first MOU was signed between both parties.

The full LEM report is available here. Data for 2020 will be covered in the next report.


About the Railway Association of Canada

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) represents close to 60 freight and passenger railway companies that transport over 100 million passengers and $320 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:
Stéphanie Montreuil
Senior Director, Communications & Media Relations