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Message from the President – January 2024

From paralyzing snowfalls in B.C. to record cold and power grid concerns in Alberta to icy, windy storms in the east, winter weather was back with a vengeance across Canada this month.

Extreme conditions tested each of us. But for railroaders – many of whom must brave the elements to keep Canada moving – it was just the latest example of resilience, ingenuity, and grit.

Class 1s responded by restricting train lengths and adjusting their operations to maintain safety.

All railroaders powered through the winter weather by keeping tracks clear, keeping trains moving, and getting goods and people safely to their destinations. Toques off to all.

Railways pull for Canada – regardless of the season – and our economy is stronger for it.

On January 11, the Port of Thunder Bay closed for the winter, meaning one less outlet for Canadian grain and other goods to get to world markets. Railways will adjust. That’s what they do.

Grain shippers have not delivered the forecasted volumes for eight consecutive months. That unused capacity is in some ways a wasted opportunity. But it also seriously questions the messages that some shipper groups peddle when it comes to rail service.

As Parliamentarians got back to work in Ottawa, we launched a new campaign to share the facts on grain shipping and the need to repeal extended interswitching now to minimize the damage that policy could do to Canada’s economy.

The RAC has been invited to appear before the House Standing Committee on International Trade to talk about the need for government to focus on tangible supply chain solutions to support growth (rather than inventing supply chain problems).

The fact is: rail is the backbone of Canada’s economy. And we need governments at all levels to support the sector in any way they can.

Whether it’s building public transit (as associate member profile Alstom’s experience demonstrates well) or incentivizing innovation and investment (as our profile on Ontario Southland exemplifies), government can indeed help grow our economy by making wise investments in rail.

Railways, after all, contribute an ever-growing amount to government coffers in taxes paid – see the chart below in our data corner. So, our advocacy work continues and is more important than ever.

We may face torrents of misinformation and blizzards of false narratives. But we persist with facts and evidence at the forefront.

We’re inspired by the resilience of our railroaders to power through and pull for Canada.