Canadian Geographic
Left navigation image
Tracking rail


Freight service now dominates the Canadian rail business, providing more than 90 percent of rail revenue.

The Canadian National Railway (CN) carries about 40 percent of the nation’s goods. Based in Montréal, CN employs 22,000 workers and maintains more than 32,800 kilometres of track in a vast network that stretches from Halifax, N.S., to Prince Rupert, B.C., and as far south as New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) handles approximately 33 percent of Canada’s goods. The Calgary-based company employs over 15,000 workers and owns more than 22,500 kilometres of track, reaching from Montréal to Vancouver and south to Kansas City, Missouri.

The remainder of Canadian rail freight is transported by about 40 short-line railway companies, which collectively operate roughly 16,000 kilometres of track. Short-line railways often provide essential but industry-specific service that is not sufficiently profitable for the major carriers, such as hauling farmers’ grain or mill products to the main lines.

Passenger rail service is provided by VIA Rail and local transit authorities.

VIA Rail provides Canada’s only intercity passenger service. The Crown corporation operates 503 intercity and regional trains per week, linking 450 communities across its 12,500-kilometre network. VIA provides two types of service in Canada: daily scheduled intercity service along the Montréal-Toronto corridor and less frequent tourist-oriented long-distance service.

Commuter trains carry another 66 million passengers each year on short trips within the Toronto, Montréal, Vancouver and Ottawa metropolitan areas.


In this piece, users can click to learn about the movement of goods across Canada and the country’s main railways. Users can also click to learn about the number of trains operating in Canada per day, broken down into freight, passenger and commuter categories and represented in graph form.


On the next page:


Go now!  Go now!
Quiz :

Which Canadian port offers the fastest freight route from Asia to North America?

Port of Montréal
Port of Halifax
Port of Prince Rupert