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Transport Canada and Railway Association of Canada join forces to further reduce emissions in Canada’s rail transportation sector

OTTAWA – December 21, 2023 – Clean transportation and collaborative actions are key to a sustainable future, Canada’s economic prosperity, and Canadians’ well-being. Rail is the most efficient form of transportation for passengers and goods over land and is a critical part of the solution.

Today, the Minister of Transport, Pablo Rodriguez, and the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Railway Association of Canada, Marc Brazeau, jointly announced a renewed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This MOU reflects a shared vision of working toward net-zero emissions by 2050 and builds upon the meaningful progress made to date by the Canadian rail sector.

Transport Canada and Railway Association of Canada members will work together to:

  • advance low-carbon fuel use,
  • move more goods and people by rail where possible, and
  • accelerate the development of advanced net-zero solutions for locomotives.

The renewed MOU enhances collaboration and information-sharing to address emerging challenges, to exchange best practices, and to encourage investments in innovation and new technologies. Canada’s railways have lowered emissions and proactively set science-based emissions targets. This work aligns with global climate objectives.

Collaborative actions, such as this MOU, show the commitment of the Government of Canada and Canadian railways to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, while fostering economic growth.


“Rail transportation is part of our past and will be part our future. We’re working together towards our net-zero emissions goals, and making sure we keep people and goods moving towards their destination.”

The Honourable Pablo Rodriguez
Minister of Transport

“This Memorandum of Understanding is living proof of an industry-wide commitment to continuously investing, innovating, and improving as our members pull for Canada. Canada’s railways move the Canadian economy and already are the safest and most fuel-efficient mode of ground transportation. Railway Association of Canada members are committed to doing even more – for everyone’s benefit.”

Marc Brazeau
President and Chief Executive Officer, Railway Association of Canada

Quick facts

  • Since 2005, the freight rail industry has improved its fuel efficiency by more than 25%, intercity passenger rail fuel efficiency improved by over 30% as of 2019 (pre-pandemic), and certain air pollutants have been virtually eliminated. Notably, there has been an absolute reduction in air pollutants such as NOx (-47%), PM10 (-61%), CO (-8%), HC (-55%), and SO2 (-99%) since 2005.
  • The Memorandum of Understanding outlines several areas for collaboration and sustainability milestones, including:
    • acknowledging Class 1 railways (Canadian Pacific Kansas City and Canadian National) for their commitments to reduce the intensity of GHG emissions in accordance with their Science-Based Targets (SBTi) for 2030, and to achieve absolute emissions reductions by 2030 aligned with SBTi modeled pathways;
    • exploring the feasibility of achieving 10 to 20 percent of low-carbon fuel use within the rail sector by 2030; and
    • working together to accelerate the research and development that supports retrofitting and upgrading locomotives toward net-zero technologies.
  • The Memorandum of Understanding also builds upon ongoing research and development efforts to advance new and innovative solutions to reduce emissions from the rail sector. Transport Canada and Canada’s railways are advancing this work through direct research with technology developers, academia, standards development organizations, and the U.S. wherever possible.

Associated links


Laura Scaffidi
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez
Minister of Transport, Ottawa

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa

Media Relations
Railway Association of Canada, Ottawa
Chris Day