Canadian Rail Facts

Powering the Economy

  • Canada’s railway sector is globally competitive, sustainable and most importantly, safe.
  • Canadian railways move 75 million people and more than 70% of all intercity surface goods in Canada annually
  • Canada’s railway network is the fifth largest in the world
  • Canada’s railways handle the fourth largest volume of goods in the world
  • Canada’s railways move roughly half of Canada’s exports by volume
  • Private railway companies in Canada are owned directly by tens of thousands of investors, including thousands of railway employees – and indirectly by millions of ordinary Canadians through savings and pension plans
  • Canada’s railways paid more than $777 million in fuel, property, sales and other forms of taxes in 2012
  • Canadian railway companies by $2.9 billion annually in wages and benefits
  • In 2012, Canada’s railways invested $1.8 billion in new capital programs to support growth and service improvements.
  • Canada’s railways employ 34,000 people and support and additional 60,000 direct and indirect jobs in the railway supply industry.


Canada’s railways apply a number of innovative technologies to improve safety and operational and fuel efficiency:

  • LED (light emitting diode) technology and retro-reflective material to make railway crossing lights and warning signs more visible from further distances
  • Strobe-light effects when trains are using crossings
  • Digital technologies such as electronic data interchange (EDI), internet applications and wireless communications to allow customers to place orders, check prices, trace cars, request plant switches, check bills and perform various other functions in real time
  • Advanced security gamma-ray technology at borders to allow customs officials to see the contents of rail cars
  • Rail lubrication technology that deposits a thin bead of lubricant on the rail as a train passes, to reduce friction, noise, wear and energy consumption.

Collision and Incident Stats

Did you know?

  • More than 440 people die and 400 more are seriously injured while trespassing on railroad tracks in the US each year.
  • In the year 2013, 76% of all trespasser related incidents were fatal. In Canada in 2013, there were 58 reported incidents, with 44 being fatal and 10 being serious.

Of all vehicle train collisions:

  • 94% are caused by risky driver behaviour
  • 50% occur at crossings with active warning devices
  • 64% occur in daylight hours
  • 50% occur when the train is traveling under 30 mph
  • 75% occur within 25 miles of the driver’s home
  • A driver is 20 times more likely to die in a collision with a train than with another motor vehicle
  • Annually, more people die in highway-rail grade crossing crashes than in all commercial and general aviation crashes combined

The Essex Terminal Railway proudly supports Operation Lifesaver, an organization focused on educating the public about hazards around railway lines and trains.

Train Stats

Did you know?

An average train:

  • Can take a full mile or more to stop
  • Is 7,000 feet long and weighs more than 3,200 tons
  • Extends three or more feet beyond the tracks in both directions, which makes the safety zone for pedestrians well beyond the rails themselves. If you are in the right-of-way next to the tracks, you can be hit by the train or by material that has become loose or dislodged.
  • Walking or playing on railroad tracks, bridges, yards and equipment is not only illegal, but also extremely dangerous
  • 1 in 5 people don’t know that a crossbuck sign at a railroad crossing means: Slow down, look and listen for a train.
  • The weight ratio of a train to an automobile is roughly the same as an automobile to a soda can, or an elephant (or 2) to a mouse.
  • The US has approximately 210,000 miles (337,000 km) of railroad track and 150,000 public grade crossings.
  • In Canada, there are approximately 45,000 miles (73,000 km) of railroad track and 37,500 grade crossings crossings

SOURCE: Federal Railroad Administration, Office of Safety Analysis

SOURCE: Railway Association of Canada