More Passengers, Less Freight for Canadian Railways in 2008

Canada's railways carried 72.3 million passengers in 2008, an increase of 6.5 percent over 2007, and others hauled 237.3 billion revenue ton miles of freight, down 4.2 percent, during the year, according to figures released on Dec. 1 by the Railway Association of Canada (RAC).

Railway Trends 2009 (PDF) is an annual composite of financial and operating data for the 54 member railways' performance over the past decade. The railways operate an average of 775 trains a day in Canada.

"Canada's railways are an economic engine for the economy," said Cliff Mackay, president and chief executive officer of the Railway Association of Canada. "The country's strength as an export-oriented trading nation depends on a stable investment environment necessary for future Canadian growth."

Containers in domestic and international service were the fastest growing rail freight commodity segment. Minerals, fuels and chemicals, agricultural products and metals were the leading commodities for carload revenue.

The number of rail commuters in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec rose 5.8 percent to 67.1 million in 2008. Intercity rail passengers in Canada rose to almost five million. The number of rail tourist travelers was 352,000, down 26,000 or 6.9 percent from a year earlier.

There were 1,266 freight railway-related accidents in 2008, 229 less than in 2007, according to Transportation Safety Board results involving federally and provincially-regulated railways. The number of accidents, based on the industry's workload, declined to 2.8 accidents per billion gross ton miles.