While every student of Canada knows that railways run through the heart of this nation’s history, relatively few Canadians understand the essential service that modern rail provides our current economy. Fewer still see the pivotal role that rail travel will play in Canada’s future.
With more than 45,000 kilometres of track, Canada boasts one of the largest rail systems in the world. Rail employs 32,000 Canadian workers and directly contribute more than $10 billion a year to the nation’s economy. Another 60,000 Canadians work for companies that supply the railways.
Nearly everything Canadians consume — from apples to automobiles —travels by rail on some portion of its journey to the local store. Likewise, much of what Canadians produce is exported by rail. Altogether, rail carries 75 percent of all surface goods in Canada. That adds up to more than 3.3 million freight cars a year.
People ride Canadian railways too. Each year, more than 66 million Canadians board commuter trains that serve the Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver and Ottawa regions. An additional 4.5 million people — many of them tourists from Asia and Europe — ride VIA trains from one city to another.