President & CEO, Railway Association of Canada
The importance of Canada’s railway system cannot be understated. Policy makers should prioritize this major economic driver that’s also environmentally sound.
Having re-invested over $20 billion into Canada’s 43,000-kilometre rail network in the past decade, railways are moving $350 billion of goods each year (half of Canada’s exports!). They’ve invested in safety, supply chain capacity, and technologies like hydrogen and battery-powered locomotives. There are also high-capacity hopper cars, intermodal terminals, loop tracks that speed up grain loading elevators, and much more.
Clearly integral to Canada’s economy, railways have stayed reliable through the COVID-19 pandemic, forest fires and other climate events, and geopolitical developments. Plus, it’s the greenest mode of ground transportation.
“Modal shift to rail means progress towards Canada’s emissions targets,” says Railway Association of Canada (RAC) President and CEO Marc Brazeau. “Rail makes up only four per cent of all emissions in the transportation sector. That’s a staggering number. If 10 per cent of freight shifted from trucks to trains, that would equate to lowering emissions by the same amount as taking one million cars off the road every year.”
Railways: Resilient and Innovative
Railways invest roughly 20-25 cents of every dollar they earn back into their networks to improve safety, resilience, technology, infrastructure, capacity, and more. They are helping bolster climate-resistant infrastructure including through adding railbed culverts and protecting intermodal and coastal facilities.
“Capacity-enhancing investments move supply chains, not more regulation,” Brazeau explains. Brazeau noted that extended interswitching adds to transit times and sends business to the U.S. He cautioned that banning the use of qualified replacement workers could lead to more frequent delays and disruptions.
Practical supply chain solutions include capital cost allowance, boosting infrastructure programs like the Rail Safety Improvement Program and National Supply Chain Corridor Fund, and adding short-line support programs or tax credits.
“We need to look at facts, not anecdotes,” Brazeau adds. “Canadian railways are critical infrastructure and they are pulling for Canada.”
Policy makers must support a policy environment that encourages private-sector investments to grow capacity, strengthen climate resistance, and ensure railways can continue to deliver for Canadians.