Canadian Geographic
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Tracking rail


About one-quarter of Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions are generated by transportation. And those emissions are rising: total transportation-related emissions increased by 30 percent between 1990 and 2004.

Canadian trucks accounted for about half that increase. Trucks currently carry approximately one-third of Canada’s surface goods and generate more than one-quarter of transportation-related greenhouse-gas emissions.

Conversely, Canadian rail cut greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 20 percent during the same time period, even as rail traffic increased by 50 percent. Rail now carries about 75 percent of Canada’s goods but produce only 3 percent of the nation’s transportation-related greenhouse-gas emissions.

Energy-efficient locomotives are responsible for much of this dramatic fuel savings. Canada’s rail now operates more than 1,000 next-generation locomotives, such as General Electric’s Evolution Series, which can reduce emissions by up to 40 percent. “Low idle” features and automatic stop/start systems have improved locomotive performance as well.

Rail-lubrication systems have also improved fuel efficiency. These automatic systems drip soybean oil or other non-toxic lubricants onto the tracks at tight turns and are credited with reducing wheel noise and rail wear while minimizing the potential for derailment.

Among other technologies credited for the dramatic improvement in rail fuel efficiency during the past two decades: longer trains, larger carloads, double-stack intermodal cars and computerized switching yards that efficiently consolidate cars into blocks bound for similar destinations.


This piece breaks down Canada’s GHG emissions from various transportation sources, and is displayed in a dynamic pie chart.


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Safety and security

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Quiz :

The gamma-ray imageing system used to scan rail cars as they approach the Canada-U.S. border is known as: