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Review: Volume 5 - The Railways

Review: Volume 5 - The Railways

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Between 1800 and 1850 Britain underwent a revolution, not in the political sense, but a social and economic one. The Industrial Revolution when, for a few short decades, Britain became the 'Workshop of the World' was one of the defining eras of modern history. The country's economy moved from one based upon agriculture to one where trade and industry dominated. Many factors played their part in bringing about this radical change in the national condition but one of the most significant was the revolution in transport without which the other elements which made up by the Industrial Revolution would not have been possible or would have occurred much more slowly. It was the coming of the railway that, for the first time, truly knitted the country together, bringing as it did uniform time across the country for the first time in history. Detailed in its analysis and comprehensive in its coverage "The Grand Experiment: The Birth of the Railway Age 1820-1845" will become the definitive account of this vital period in Britain's transport and economic history. It will be required reading for all historians of the period as well as the growing number fascinated with the history of the Industrial Revolution.

Drawing upon the records of the GWR held by such bodies as the National Archives and the National Railway Museum and in various county record offices, the book shows how prevalent the use of wooden bridges and viaducts was across the entire Great Western Railway and its satellite companies. Traditionally associated with Cornwall, wooden structures designed by Brunel could be found almost anywhere on the broad gauge, from the Home Counties through to the Cotswolds. Illustrated throughout, with both contemporary engineering drawings and photographs of the structures in use this title represents a detailed study into this important and often overlooked facet of Brunel's work.

Railway disasters are almost always the result of human fallibility - a single mistake by an engine-driver, guard or signalman, or some lack of communication between them - and it is in the short distance between the trivial error and its terrible consequence that the drama of the railway accident lies. First published in 1955, and the result of Rolt's careful investigation and study of the verbatim reports and findings by HM Inspectorate of Railways, this book was the first work to record the history of railway disasters, and it remains the classic account. It covers every major accident on British railways between 1840 and 1957 which resulted in a change in railway working practice, and reveals the evolution of safety devices and methods which came to make the British railway carriage one of the safest modes of transport in the world. This edition uses the last text produced by Rolt himself in 1966 and includes a new introduction by his friend and fellow railway historian Professor Jack Simmons.

Many still recall when the train was their principal means of travel, whether to school or work, to visit friends and relatives, or to go on holiday. And it wasn't just people that went by rail: so did the coal that heated homes, the food that filled them and the bricks that built them. They also served the great ports, conveying everything from thousand-ton loads of iron to baskets of racing pigeons. It was a time when a train journey remained an adventure, and when the steam locomotives that made that journey possible were a source of awe and fascination. This era is recalled in Yesterday's Railways, which includes a comprehensive history of Britain's railways from the ground-breaking years of the 1900s to the day in August 1968 that the fires were put out for the last time.

Tracks of Change: Railways and Everyday Life in Colonial India

Ritika Prasad’s volume Tracks of Change: Railways and Everyday Life in Colonial India is a refreshingly new addition to the historiography of colonial Indian railways. It is indeed, as the author claims in the introduction, a story of ‘how railway travel, technology and infrastructure became palpably present in the everyday lives of Indians’ (p. 2). The volume successfully demonstrates the ways in which colonial Indian railways became enmeshed with everyday lived experience of millions of Indians from the mid-19th century onwards, and how Indians responded to this presence by adapting as well as challenging the quintessential ‘tool of the empire’. More importantly, Prasad’s volume also makes a vital and wider point of illustrating how the everyday Indian responses to this new technological presence in their lives ‘materially shaped India’s history’ (p. 3).

The focus of Prasad’s work, namely the everyday workings of the colonial Indian railway and its impact on the history of India as evidenced through the lives of Indians who used the railway network extensively, represents a historiographical departure. Broadly speaking, until recently our knowledge of the workings of the colonial Indian railways was mostly confined to its impact on Indian economy. Penetrating analyses by John Hurd, Daniel Thorner, Ian Derbyshire, Robert Varady and others have since long enriched our understanding of how an expansive railway network shaped various facets of colonial Indian economy. Subsequently, Ian Kerr added his excellent and pioneering contributions on railway construction labour and the managerial aspects of controlling a vast, diverse and circulating labour force in colonial India. In this context, railway labour, both construction and operational, also received a fair share of scholarly scrutiny highlighting the myriad ways in which its actions can be interpreted as both ideologically anti-colonial and informed by notions of collective working class identity and welfare.

Prasad’s work, however, deviates from this scholarship. Her book represents a wider shift in Indian railway historiography that in recent years has interpreted the role of colonial Indian railways as a social, cultural and ideological tool of the imperial power. This re-aligning of academic interests certainly has had the advantage of integrating instructive and incisive economic analyses with more comprehensive interpretations of the role of Indian railways in a wider ideological context than hitherto perceived. In many ways, this ‘cultural turn’ in the historiography of colonial Indian railways was signalled (pun intended) by the publication of a volume edited by Ian Kerr in 2007. Thereafter, the outstanding works by Manu Goswami, Ravi Ahuja, Laura Bear and Nitin Sinha that collectively brought out the ideological and cultural dimensions of the transfer of railway technology in colonial India. Marian Aguiar and Lisa Mitchell too, have further contributed to our understanding of Indian railways both as a tool of colonial control and popular resistance. Such analyses have helped to widen the methodological as well as the historiographical scope of our understanding of the ways in which colonial Indian railways operated within broader social and cultural contexts. At the same time, however, these contributions, particularly Ravi Ahuja and Nitin Sinha’s work, have also made a strong case for contextualising railways within wider networks of transport, communication and ‘public works’ – an appeal that tempers the impact of railways. In short, this historiographical shift also constitutes a demand to move away from ‘grand technologies’ such as the railways. This certainly squares well with the recent scholarship by the likes of David Arnold, Deep Kanta Lahiri Chaudhuri, Clive Dewey, Smritikumar Sarkar and others. Prasad’s book, interestingly, takes a middle ground in this growing debate about different technologies and their differentiating impact, either individual or collective, on colonial Indian society. Tracks of Change draws upon these recent and critical scholarly analyses. But at the same time Prasad makes a case for bringing back railway-centred narrative despite awareness of the significance of other means of transport (p. 5).

Not surprisingly, such bold declarations in favour of going back to railway-centred narratives is reflected in the organisational arrangement of the book. As noted, Prasad’s focus is on everyday. As such, the seven chapters of this book, excluding the introduction and the conclusion, are designed to convey myriad ways in which Indians in their everyday lives and experiences encountered the new colonial technology. Thematically speaking, the book is well-organised. The first two chapters focus on daily routines of travel and its impact on ordinary Indians. These are followed by three chapters that analyse the various ways in which the railway constructions transformed everyday environment. The last two chapters ‘examine how railways and railway spaces lay at the heart of military control, political action, and dissent in colonial India’ (p. 9). The concluding chapter of the book compares the colonial Indian railways and the Delhi Metro and argues for a long-term historical understanding of the processes that underpin the ‘symmetrical and reciprocal dialogue between technology and society’ (p. 282). The introduction and conclusion especially provide a strong historiographical and analytical underpinning for the rest of the chapters. In the introduction, Prasad pays particular attention to methodological issues, especially her use of the conceptual category of ‘everyday’. She convincingly argues that the use of ‘everyday’ as an index of analysis provides both theoretical and practical advantages, and shows that the application of ‘everyday in its most colloquial sense’ (p. 10) was critical in recovering ‘historical and political subjects those who have been deemed anonymous, silent and subordinate’ (p. 10). Admittedly drawing upon subaltern historians (especially, Partha Chatterjee and Ranajit Guha) and the study of Altag or everyday life (p. 10) Prasad argues that the methodological scope of the book permits a simultaneous examination of ‘individual, private and domestic’ as well as the ‘broad use of the idea of transgression, including within it those acts through which people actively inhabit the large-scale technological abstractions that they routinely face’ (pp. 10–11). As for practical advantages, Prasad suggests that the use of ‘everyday’ allowed her to with a range of encounters between Indians and the railway network that included, but was not restricted to conditions of travel for Indian railway passengers the role of railway construction and operations on the everyday environment in colonial India (p. 7) the impact of ‘railway time’ on ‘everyday understandings of time, speed and mobility among the colonized population at large’ the influence of railways on everyday issues of critical significance such as spread of contagion and disease and last but not least, railways as a site of everyday political contestations. In short, the concept of ‘everyday’ permeates through the chapters, demonstrating a particularly sophisticated use of a methodological approach to practical ends.

Interestingly, Prasad argues that her methodological approach has also allowed her to go beyond the constraints imposed by the colonial archive. Acknowledging the influence of Ranajit Guha and Shahid Amin’s works, Prasad indicates that though her sources are ‘colonial’ the use of ‘everyday’ enabled her to interrogate this archive in ways that has yielded local specificities and concerns. More importantly, at a related level, she argues that though her reading of the colonial archive through the prism of the ‘everyday’ mostly concerns subaltern populations, yet it also provides the opportunity to discuss ‘how the more privileged in the colonial society negotiated with railways (p. 14). It is in this context that Prasad also situates her scholarship within a global narrative of technology transfer and social change. Prasad rightly argues that the story of Indian railways, especially its ‘everyday’ interactions with Indians and Indian society is ‘both a local story of global negotiations and global story of local negotiations’ (p. 22). This is a particularly appealing feature of the book, one that connects the social history of Indian railways in the broader global context, without undermining the role of the colonial.

Prasad’s deft handling of the idea of the ‘colonial’ archive while applying the methodological index of the ‘everyday’ is particularly evident in the first two chapters of the book, which deal with the demands of everyday railway travel in colonial India. The first chapter, titled ‘The nature of the beast? An elementary logic for third-class travel’, offers a detailed analysis of third-class railway travel in colonial India. In an analysis that heavily draws upon the copious railway passenger statistics, Prasad suggests that the ‘structural discomforts and routine indignities created a shared body of knowledge’ (p. 26) about the ideology of colonial difference. Focusing on overcrowding of third-class carriages the widespread use of goods wagons for carrying lower-class passengers and the consistent refusal of the railway administration to provide lower-class carriages with in-built lavatories, Prasad argues that for most Indians, ‘their encounter with technological change was intertwined with their practical experience of colonialism’ (p. 57). In itself this analysis is not new. But the chapter certainly goes beyond this and what makes it unique is the way in which Prasad unpacks the category of third-class passengers, claiming that most Indians (though not all) clearly belonged to this category. This colonial specificity she goes on to argue had two interesting components: one, the language of ‘native peculiarity’ deployed by the colonial administration conveniently blamed Indian passengers for their own travelling travails – a discourse that underlined a desire to train the ‘irrational’ Indian passengers into disciplined colonised subjects and two, how though the third-class railway passengers were disenfranchised, their numerical strength was difficult to ignore for political and legitimising purposes for both the colonial state and the emerging nationalist movement in late 19th-century colonial India. The issue of the numerical significance of third-class passengers is a critical one, and Prasad’s analysis certainly makes a valid point. However, besides the evidence of the importance of this issue Prasad provides through a discussion of the amount of time third-class railway passengers ‘occupied’ in the Imperial Legislative Council, the chapter does not otherwise show the varied and nuanced ways in which the colonial state and the aspiring nationalist movement claimed and counter-claimed the legitimacy to represent third-class railway passengers over the issues of travel conditions in lower-class carriages. Regardless of this shortcoming, the chapter certainly makes a strong case for analysing the persistent woes of the third-class railway passengers through the prism of colonial difference.

The second chapter, ‘Demand and supply? Railway space and social taxonomy’ continues the theme of the previous one and examines the impact of everyday experiences of shared railway spaces on Indians. This is particularly interesting as it directly speaks to the colonial claim that the conditions of railway travel would have had the consequence of dismantling the hold of caste and religious prejudices over Indian society in general and railway passengers in particular. In this chapter Prasad shows how the nature of railway spaces (public) ‘allowed people to simultaneously pursue ideals of a horizontal society and reinstate hierarchies of difference’ (p. 59). Prasad examines this wider point by exploring the spaces (reserved carriages, waiting rooms) and the rules (arranging the food and water of diverse bodies of passengers) that influenced Indians’ everyday interaction with railway technology. In an interesting and accurate analysis Prasad suggests that for Indian railway passengers, both ordinary and elites, their experiences of railway spaces were shot through contradictions that included differential assessment of ‘native needs’ by the railway administration, reflected in different attitudes towards acknowledging the rules of commensality practiced by Indian railway passengers, while rejecting demands for separate railway carriages for Indians and Europeans. More importantly, her analysis indicate that the everyday negotiations of Indian railway passengers were also informed through a range of identities that included class, caste, religion and race. Indeed, this is one of most stimulating aspect of this chapter, especially Prasad’s discussion of newspaper articles articulating demands made by Indian railway passengers for separate carriages reserved for different social groups. Despite the presence of such evidence, Prasad’s analysis, however, indicates that of all categories, race played a defining role in shaping everyday railway experience of Indian passengers. The emphasis on the unifying potential of race as an index of identity is particularly evident in her discussion about reserved carriages and access to waiting rooms for Indian passengers, including those who had upper-class tickets. This chapter certainly makes refreshingly new contributions to our understanding of colonial Indian railways on everyday travel experiences and beyond.

The next three chapters are thematically tied to explore the role of railways in shaping everyday environment in colonial India. The chapter ‘Crime and punishment: in the shadow of railway embankments’ follow the little-known subject of railway construction actively intervening with the existing drainage system in colonial India, causing extensive damage of life and property through flooding. This chapter is an interesting demonstration of railways intersecting and affecting everyday life of Indians beyond its immediate precincts. The concerns expressed in this chapter also chimes well with a relatively recent historiographical shift that examines the impact of colonial Indian railways on environment and ecology. Inasmuch, this chapter contributes to this growing body of literature and underlines the deleterious impact of railway embankments on drainage patterns and subsequent flooding. But beyond this, the chapter also successfully illustrates the significance of railways as an ideological and practical tool in the hands of the imperial authority and how any damage to railways, either real or perceived, attracted punitive actions by the state. As we will see, this a recurring theme in the book, and Prasad returns to it in subsequent chapters. In this chapter, she focuses on ‘sabotage’, or as the colonial state and the railway authorities described the cutting of the railway embankments by the inhabitants of the affected regions. Such acts of sabotage, Prasad shows attracted punitive punishments for those involved thus underlining the critical economic role of railways for the colonial state. This chapter brings out the complicated and nuanced layers of colonial politics. It shows the ways in which the issue of railway embankments and damage caused to them by ordinary Indians who believed that the former played a crucial role in aiding floods struggled to make their voices heard in a competing political environment wherein the railway companies and various layers of the colonial state successfully averted questions of responsibility and redressal.

The fourth chapter of the book, ‘Railway time: speed, synchronization and time-sense’, explores the impact of ‘railway-time’ on everyday temporal sensibilities of ordinary Indians. This chapter illustrates the long, contentious and rich history of transition to ‘railway-time’ in colonial India. Moreover, it shows that Indians responded to this temporal shift in heterogenous ways, a fact that Prasad argues is crucial in ‘re-establishing the historical modern as a time shared by colonizer and colonized’ (p. 137). At a related level, she suggests that this temporal shift affected millions of Indians, who ‘not only had to grapple with standardization, but also with related questions of speed and mobility (p. 136). Evidently, Prasad uses the everyday negotiations of Indian railways passengers with the gradual temporal shift to ‘railway-time’ as a critical theoretical as well as empirical method to engage with the wider idea that the colonised inhabited the shared time with the colonisers, thereby undermining the implied inferiority of the former. The following chapter, ‘Contagion and control: managing disease, epidemics and mobility’ shows the role played by railways in spreading contagious diseases such as cholera and plague in colonial India. Drawing upon existing scholarship on railways and its role in spreading diseases and colonial medicine, Prasad claims that railways certainly added to the faster spread of diseases but she also notes that how railway authorities shared an uneven relationship with contemporary medical knowledge and did not hesitate to turn their back on scientific evidence if it had the potential to disrupt railway operations in India. This, she argues, had a direct bearing on the insanitary conditions in which most passengers were forced to travel in colonial India. Deftly linking the two, she notes that the refusal to ascribe any responsibility to the railways from spreading the diseases was influenced by the fact that railway authorities did not want to acknowledge that passengers were compelled to travel in dehumanising and brutally insanitary conditions. Prasad rightly shows that this refusal was also tied in with subjecting railway passengers to tools of colonial surveillance through physical examinations at the stations, once again highlighting the railways’ role as a disciplinary tool of colonial control.

The last two chapters, ‘Designing rule: power, efficiency and anxiety’ and ‘Marking citizen from denizen: dissent, “rogues” and rupture’, expand the theme of railways and colonial order, control and discipline. The first among these two clearly harks back to an older historiographical tradition and argues for railways’ strategic importance for militarily holding the colony together. Prasad explicates this by a detailed discussion of how the locations of railway stations were strategically chosen, as, despite lip service to ‘public convenience’, these places in reality were designed for imperial defence. Prasad shows how Indians, especially an aggressive and militant nationalist movement, appropriated this colonial tool of control and often used it, with varying degree of success to subvert and challenge the colonial state. Prasad’s suggestion about the strategic role of railways and the punitive punishments that were designed by the colonial state to protect this imperial tool of control is certainly accurate. But in the absence of numbers that show actual convictions based on punitive, railway-specific laws, her claims illustrate a gap between the imperial desire to control and its actual implementation. The seventh and the last chapter explores ‘the ways in which railways became central to the language and practice of dissent in colonial India’ (p. 235). In an empirically detailed and rich analysis, this chapter argues that railway spaces served a dual function of providing a platform for anti-colonial protests as well as marking a disjunction between elite and popular politics (p. 235). The former point is not new, though Prasad’s extensive coverage of Gandhi and his strategic (both theoretical and practical) use of the railways marks a significant departure. However, her second assertion that the nature of mass politics as expressed in railway spaces often challenged the rules of formal and elite nationalism is interesting and requires attention. Theoretically speaking, this argument also reflects the clear methodological influence of Shahid Amin’s outstanding work, drawing upon which Prasad successfully shows that on many occasions railway spaces allowed ordinary Indians to act in ways which were neither approved nor condoned by the elite nationalist leadership. In this chapter Prasad also comes back to the issue of the significance of the railway network for the political well-being of the colonial state. In the context of violence and disorder within railway spaces, she notes retaliatory responses (p. 248) by the colonial state. Once again, however, this assertion is diluted by the fact that some of the punitive measures were suggested but not realised (p. 250). Nevertheless, the chapter is unique in underlining crucial ways in which mass nationalism appropriated railways in its anti-colonial struggle (p. 259).

As a volume, Tracks of Change adds rich and nuanced layers to our current understanding of the impact of colonial Indian railways on the everyday lives of Indians. The author’s use of sources is skilful, and so is her interpretative analysis. Having said that, it must be acknowledged that her sources and analysis become stronger and more substantial the closer the book moves to the present day. Also, on more than one occasion she indicates that passenger experiences varied, and so did railway rules but this idea is never consistently followed up However, these minor criticisms do not detract from the fact that Prasad’s work is outstanding, especially for the ways in which it recovers the everyday encounters between an imperial technology and ordinary Indians. The book deserves a wide audience and is a valuable addition to social historiography of Indian railways.

1. Mugby Junction by Charles Dickens (1866)

Dickens never liked trains. He preferred stagecoaches, which are romanticised in Pickwick Papers. On 9 June 1865, his negative opinion was confirmed when he was involved in a railway crash at Staplehurst, Kent, in which 10 people died. Dickens did use trains afterwards, but always gripping the arm of the seat and feeling the carriage was "down on the right hand side". For the Christmas 1866 edition of Household Words magazine, he wrote three loosely-connected stories entitled Mugby Junction, which have often been collected as a single volume. The opening story, Barbox Brothers, includes brilliant descriptions of the vast, eponymous junction by night: "Mysterious goods trains, covered with palls and gliding on like vast weird funerals … " There is then a satire on railway refreshment rooms, Dickens having been slighted a few months beforehand by the staff of the refreshment room at Rugby. (Hence "Mugby".) The third piece is The Signal-Man, a ghost story about a train crash in a tunnel. It is often cited as the best ghost story ever written.

Rail Transportation

With more than 46,000 kilometres of tracks (see Addendum Table RA1), the rail transport industry is an important element of Canada's transportation system. In Canada, the rail transport industry generates approximately $10 billion per year—95% of which comes from rail freight operations and approximately 5% from commuter, intercity and tourist passenger rail services in major urban centres, corridors and regions.

The North American rail industry is highly integrated. Companies operating on integrated rail networks build track to a standard gauge, and tracks are maintained to similar standards. Loaded rail cars are usually pulled by locomotives owned and operated by the track owner, but North American integration allows railways to interchange or hand off cars and locomotives that meet industry standards to other railways to complete a journey.

Shortline railways are a fundamental component of the country's rail network, feeding and delivering traffic to and from mainline railways, originating more than 20% of all CN and CPR 's freight carload traffic, and moving billions of tonne-kilometres back and forth from Class I railways.

Passenger railways include intercity rail operators, urban rail transit railways and heritage railways. In 2009, intercity passenger rail traffic totalled 4.5 million passengers and approximately 1.4 billion passenger-kilometres. VIA Rail Canada—a Crown corporation established in 1977 that now operates close to 500 trains weekly serving more than 450 communities across 12,500 kilometres of rail network—is Canada's dominant intercity rail passenger service operator, with annual passenger revenues of $260 to $280 million. It is also a Class I railway. This is complemented by about $260 million in annual operating subsidies as well as substantial capital funding. Remote communities benefit from subsidized intercity passenger rail services provided by carriers such as Tshiuetin Rail Transportation Inc. between Sept-Iles and Schefferville, while cross-border passenger rail service connections are made possible in Vancouver through Amtrak's Cascades service, in Niagara Falls through Amtrak's Empire service, and in Montreal through Amtrak's Adirondack service.

A number of tourism rail services are offered throughout the country and include Rocky Mountaineer, Alberta Prairie Railway Excursions, Great Canadian Railtour Company Ltd., South Simcoe Railway, and Steam Train HCW. Commuter rail service is provided by TransLink in Metro Vancouver, GO Transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and Agence métropolitaine de transport (Metropolitan Transportation Agency) in the Greater Montreal area.

8.2 2011 Year in Review

Economic Framework and infrastructure

  • In 2011, Canadian railways carried more than 313 million tonnes of freight, up 14.9% from 2010 (see Table RA9).
  • Some 36 shortline and regional railways operate in Canada. In 2010 they accounted for 22.2% of total kilometres of track (see Table RA1) and $655 million in revenues (see Table RA4).
  • In 2011, the railway industry in Canada alone employed 32,006 people, up 1% from the previous year (see Table RA5). Average employee annual comnpensation was $76,554, up 2.8% from 2010.
  • Labour agreements were reached in 2011 between Canadian National ( CN ) and the Canadian Auto Workers' ( CAW ) union, the United Steelworkers, and the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference ( TCRC ). In total, these recent agreements now cover approximately 8,575 CN employees. Canadian Pacific Railway ( CPR ) also reached labour agreements with CAW that cover its mechanical services employees, and VIA Rail reached a labour agreement with TCRC that covers its locomotive engineers. Table EC54 shows that in 2011, only one work stoppages occurred in the rail industry and it impacted 109 workers.
  • In March 2011, Metrolinx purchased a section of CN 's Kingston Subdivision in eastern Toronto for $299 million. The rail line encompasses the two- and three-track rail corridor east of Union Station to a junction near Whites Road in Pickering, Ontario, where the line then connects with GO Transit's separate rail right-of-way. With this purchase, Metrolinx now owns 61% of the rail corridors within which GO Transit operates.
  • System-wide, CN earned $9.0 billion in operating revenues in 2011. This represents an 8.8% increase over 2010 revenues of $8.3 billion. Operating expenses increased 8.7%, from 5.3 billion in 2010 to 5.7 billion in 2011. Fuel represented the largest increase in operating expenses, rising 34.7%, from $1.0 billion in 2010 to $1.4 billion. Expenses in labour and fringe benefits increased 3.9%, from $1.7 billion 2010 to $1.8 billion in 2011. Tables EC71 and RA4 provides combined financial results for the Canadian portion of CN and CPR 's operations.
  • CN made several infrastructure investments in 2011, including the construction of a new logistics park in Calgary, $35 million to improve infrastructure and facility capacity in Alberta, and improvements to its Brampton Intermodal Terminal. These investments by CN are part of a larger $1.7 billion in capital spending in 2011, which included $1 billion for track investment, $500 million on facilities, such as distribution centres and information technology, and $200 million on fleet improvements, including new fuel-efficient locomotives and new freight cars.
  • System-wide, CPR earned $5.0 billion in revenues in 2011, representing a 4.1% increase over the $4.9 billion earned in 2010. Operating expenses increased 8.9%, from $3.9 billion in 2010 to 4.2 billion in 2011. Fuel and materials represented the largest increase in operating expenses, rising by 33.0 and 13.6%, respectively.
  • CPR announced plans to expand its crude oil transload facility at Estevan, Saskatchewan, serving the Bekken Formation in Saskatchewan, to better handle the expected 70,000 annual carloads in the future. Also, as part of its three-year program to improve 1,400 kilometres of its North Main Line between Winnipeg and Edmonton, CPR enhanced 250 kilometres of track. These investments by CPR are part of a larger billion-dollar capital investment plan for 2011, which included $680 million for track infrastructure, $200 million for volume growth, productivity initiatives and network enhancements, $80 million to upgrade its information technology systems and $40 million principally in train control and other regulated capital.
  • In December 2011, CPR announced its intent to further develop its long-train strategy, which aims to increase intercontinental train length by 11% by 2013. CPR 's intermodal trains have grown in length to 12,000 feet—an increase of 40% since 2008.
  • In 2010, VIA Rail Canada reported revenues of $274.4 million and a loss of $261.5 million. The federal government provided $261.5 million in operating funding and $268.6 in capital funding.
  • In 2010, VIA Rail Canada, experienced a 1.3% decrease in passenger-miles (see Table RA30), while increases in the average fare resulted in a 3.2% increase in passenger revenues.
  • VIA Rail completed $300-million infrastructure upgrades in its Montreal–Ottawa–Toronto corridor, and opened a new $750,000 station in Smiths Falls, Ontario.
  • VIA Rail also announced a series of new marketing-oriented initiatives and service agreements to improve customer service and productivity. These include new partnerships with GO Transit in Toronto and bus services in western Canada to integrate travel connections, improvements to on-board customer Internet access through Wi-Fi, and the use of new social media forums such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • There were 13 commuter rail lines operating in Canada and serving the Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver metropolitan areas. In 2010, they carried 64.3 million passengers (see Table RA31).


  • In 2010, railways consumed 1.9 billion litres of fuel, up 9.2% from the previous year (see Table RA6). This increase was driven by a 13.8% increase in tonne-kilometres carried as the economy was recovering from the previous year's recession.
  • In 2011, CN and CPR announced plans to improve their locomotive fleet fuel efficiencies and lower emissions by purchasing new locomotives and rebuilding some of their existing fleets.
  • In February 2011, Transport Canada completed preliminary consultations on the development of locomotive air pollutant emission regulations. Six consultation meetings were held in Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and Detroit.
  • In 2008 1 , greenhouse gas ( GHG ) emissions from the rail sector were 7.1 Mt CO2e . Rail emissions accounted for 4% of domestic GHG emissions from transportation, and less than 1% of total Canadian emissions 2 (see Table EN4).
  • In 2009, rail accounted for only 9% of all transportation-related NOx emissions and 6% of PM 2.5 emissions, but contributed about 2% of other transportation-related air pollutants 3 (see Table EN6).
  • Under the framework of the Regulatory Cooperation Council, a joint Canada-U.S. action plan was announced in December 2011 to align regulatory approaches between the two countries. The action plan involves 29 initiatives, including a commitment to work together to reduce GHG emissions from locomotives.
  • A Memorandum of Understanding ( MOU ) on coordination of efforts related to noise and vibration complaints and road, utility or private crossings was signed with the Canadian Transport Agency in September 2011. The purpose of this MOU is to set out the responsibilities and understandings between the participants with respect to railway noise and vibration complaints and opening and closing of road, utility and private crossings.


  • In 2011, 1,023 railway accidents took place in Canada (see Tables S1 to S5) causing 71 fatalities. Both of these figures are significantly lower than those reported in 2010 (1075 accidents and 81 fatalities).
  • Bill S-4, the Safer Railways Act, was introduced in the Senate on October 6, 2011. The Bill received Senate approval with one minor amendment on December 7, 2011.
  • In keeping with the Rail Safety Strategic Plan 2010–2015, Transport Canada launched the first phase of its national data collection system in 2011 and made significant progress on its implementation of risk-based planning and quality management procedures. Transport Canada also expanded its training program for regional safety inspectors.
  • Transport Canada invested nearly $14 million under the Grade Crossing Improvement Program (see Table G3) to make safety improvements at 810 railway crossings across the country.
  • CPR and Parks Canada hosted a symposium to reduce railway and bear conflicts in Jasper National Park. CPR will invest up to a million dollars in research aimed to reduce these collisions. Both organizations have already collaborated on a number of initiatives, including on-track structures such as peg boards that discourage bears from using the tracks as an escape path, strategic vegetation management and supporting fencing structures with electro-mats.


  • Transport Canada continued efforts to enhance the security of rail and urban transit systems through collaborative efforts with industry and the development of additional Codes of Practice.
  • Prime Minister Harper and President Obama announced a Beyond the Border Declaration in 2011, which included action items that will help enhance the efficiency and security of Canada's supply chains—including Canada's rail corridors.

8.3 2007–11 Recap

Economic Framework and infrastructure

Freight railway performance

Canadian freight railway performance, in terms of volume, reflected the trends in the overall economy between 2007 and 2011. Canadian railways carried a total of 353.3 million tonnes of freight in 2007, which was a slight decrease from 357.4 million tonnes in 2006. In mid-2008, at the onset of the financial downturn, total tonnage carried by Canadian railways decreased to 336.64 million tonnes. By 2009, the total had decreased to 278.9 million tonnes of freight—a decline of nearly 57.8 million tonnes from the already depressed level of 2008. This decline of 17.2% per cent took annual freight carriage to its lowest point since 1998. As the economy began to show signs of recovery in 2010, total tonnage carried by Canadian railways rose again to 313.5 million tonnes of freight in 2011 (see Table RA9).

Despite the varying volumes and fluctuations in revenues since 2007, Canadian railways have consistently increased investment in their networks. Collectively, railways increased their $2.1-billion capital investment in 2009 to $2.3 billion in 2010—an increase of 9.5%. In 2011, Canadian railways increased their collective investment to $2.7 billion, a 17.4% increase from 2010. This consistent capital investment is intended to improve the overall efficiency, reliability and fluidity of the rail network.

Canada's transportation policy outlined in the Canada Transportation Act emphasizes a strong reliance on competition and market forces. The Act also contains a number of shipper protection provisions that were strengthened through amendments in Bill C-8, which received Royal Assent on February 28, 2008.

Following these amendments to the Act, in 2008 the federal government announced the terms of reference for the Rail Freight Service Review that set out the following objectives:

  • conduct a review of the rail-based logistics chain
  • identify problems and issues with railway service and
  • make recommendations on how to address these problems and issues, including commercial and, if necessary, regulatory solutions.

The federal government received the review's Final Report in December 2010, and has begun implementing its response, as announced on March 18, 2011. More information on the Rail Freight Service Review is available in section 8.4

The passenger rail picture

In passenger rail, VIA Rail Canada operated essentially the same network of services over the 2007–2011 period, but did temporarily suspend its Victoria-Courtenay service in March 2011 due to poor track conditions. In 2011, VIA increased its number of Montreal–Toronto trains by combining three westbound and two eastbound Montreal–Ottawa and Ottawa–Toronto trains to operate through Ottawa.

VIA's revenues reflected trends in the overall economy. Revenues increased between 2007 and 2008, rising from $285.6 million to $299.2 million, and then fell in 2009 to $264.9 million due to reduced demand associated with the global financial crisis. Revenues began to rise in 2010 as the economy recovered, increasing to $274.4 million. Operating costs grew because of rising fuel prices and compensation increases driven by the need to resume pension contributions. Over the 2007–2010 period, costs rose from $486.2 million in 2007 to $513.4 million in 2008, $526.1 million in 2009 and $535.9 million in 2010. Please see Tables RA4 and EC71 for more details.

Capital investment rose considerably. In October 2007, the federal government approved a program to inject $691 million into VIA, of which $516 million was earmarked for capital improvements. Capital expenditures in 2007 totalled $12.4 million. In 2009, as part of the Economic Action Plan implemented by the Government of Canada to stimulate the economy, VIA received an additional $407 million in capital. In 2011, capital expenditures totalled $208 million. Most investments were concentrated on the Quebec-Windsor Corridor, which accounts for 75% of VIA's revenues and 91% of its ridership. The greatest portion was directed towards equipment, stations and infrastructure in that corridor, with the goal of improving service by reducing trip times and increasing frequencies.


Freight-related Rail GHG Emissions

In a 2006 Notice of Intent, the Government of Canada announced its intent to develop locomotive air emissions regulations. Locomotive emissions regulations are being developed by Transport Canada under the Railway Safety Act in two phases, recognizing the high degree of integration of the North American railway industry:

  • regulations aligned with those in the U.S. are being developed to limit the release of air pollutant emissions from the rail sector and
  • regulations to limit the release of GHG emissions will be developed within a North American context.


Since 2007, Transport Canada's number of railway safety inspectors has increased and inspector training has grown. Risk-based planning and quality management procedures have been implemented, capacity for data management and analysis improved, consultation and communication initiatives with industry expanded, and research and development of new safety technologies sponsored. As well, Transport Canada continued its efforts to harmonize regulatory requirements with the U.S., and furthered the implementation of safety management systems in the rail industry. A suite of safety management system guides for large and small railways was published, which aimed to enhance safety culture in the rail industry.


Transport Canada continued to collaborate with the railway industry and encourage the adoption of appropriate security measures designed to enhance the security of Canada's transportation systems. In 2007, Transport Canada revised an existing, 10-year-old MOU with the Railway Association of Canada ( RAC ) established to enhance security of the railways represented by RAC . The MOU outlined specific requirements for railway security that both parties were expected to abide by.

  • Developing and Maintaining Security Plans for Rail and Transit Operations
  • Conducting Security Risk Assessments of Rail and Transit Operations
  • Conducting Security Exercises for Rail and Transit Operations
  • Employee Training and Awareness for Rail and Urban Transit Security

Under the Railway Safety Act, the Minister of Transport is granted a number of powers to enhance the security of Canadian rail operations. Several of these provisions have been used successfully to enhance the security of special events. In January 2010, Transport Canada enhanced railway security for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games by establishing security rules for federally regulated railway companies operating in the Olympic region. These rules, developed in close consultation with the affected railway companies, included requirements to implement security controls related to access, physical security, monitoring, communications and coordination, response to security incidents, employee training, and public awareness. In June 2010, Transport Canada enhanced railway security for the G8 and G20 Summits by establishing security measures for federally regulated railway companies operating in Huntsville, Ontario and Toronto, Ontario.

8.4 Economic Framework and Infrastructure

Class I freight railways

Both railways continue to develop longer trains to enhance network velocity and productivity while reducing labour costs and increasing fuel efficiency. This strategy has required significant capital investment in locomotive upgrades and siding extensions to ensure sufficient capacity within the rail network. As a result of the railways' continued investment, the average number of cars per train has increased from 73 in 2001 to 92 in 2010.

The 14% increase in volume from 2009 to 2010 can be attributed to intermodal traffic that increased by 3.75 million tonnes, representing an increase of nearly 11.6%. Tables RA28 and RA29 provide more detail on intermodal rail volumes. Bulk commodities also increased significantly, including a 38.2% increase in coal and a 6.1% increase in forest products. This was offset by 4.3% decline in grain volumes. Tables RA17 to RA20 provide more information on commodities transported by rail.

In 2010, Class I railway revenues accounted for 93.8% of total revenues in the railway sector. The largest increases in rail sector revenues in 2010 were mainly the result of significant gains in bulk goods (+8.7%) and intermodal transportation (+6%). In 2010, CN and CPR collectively employed approximately 29,193 people (see Table RA5).

Shortline freight railways

A total of 37 shortline railways operated in Canada in 2011. In 2010, shortline railways accounted for 10,169 kilometres of track, representing approximately 22.2% of total track kilometres in Canada. Big Sky Rail opened on September 22, 2011 in Saskatchewan the shortline railway operates in the southwest of the province on 354 km of track purchased from CN . These shortline operations will contribute to moving grain from southwestern Saskatchewan for export. Big Sky Rail is a partnership that includes Mobil Grain Ltd.—which has been hauling grain cars with locomotives on the shortline track since September 6, 2011—and West Central Road & Rail, which has five grain-loading facilities along the shortline. Both have an equity position in Big Sky.

In 2010, shortline railways carried a total of 73.9 million tonnes of freight. This is an increase of nearly 11.5 million tonnes from 62.5 in 2009—or 18.3%. During the 2002–2010 period, shortline railway revenues decreased by 3.7% per year, on average. Shortline railway revenues accounted for 6.2% of total revenues in the railway sector in 2010. In that same year, shortline railways employed approximately 2,813 people.

Rail Freight Service Review

The Rail Freight Service Review was launched in 2008 to identify ways to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of Canada's rail-based logistics system. The review used quantitative analysis to reach a better understanding of the nature and extent of problems within the logistics chain, as well as a three-person panel that consulted extensively and received written submissions from stakeholders across the system. The panel submitted its final report to the Minister of State (Transport) in December 2010.

On March 18, 2011 the federal government announced its response to the Rail Freight Service Review, indicating its acceptance of the Panel's commercial approach and its intention to implement a number of measures to improve the performance of the entire rail supply chain. On October 31, the government announced the appointment of an independent facilitator, Mr. Jim Dinning, to lead a six-month facilitation process for developing a template for a service agreement and streamlined commercial dispute resolution process between railways and stakeholders. In support of these commercial measures, the federal government also intends to table a bill that will give shippers the right to a service agreement with the railways, and to provide a process for establishing agreements when commercial negotiations fail.

VIA Rail Canada

VIA operates a national network of services in eight contiguous provinces. Its services fall into three categories: Quebec–Windsor Corridor, Transcontinental, and Regional and Remote. The Quebec–Windsor Corridor is a major focus: multiple daily trips are offered between all Corridor cities. Two transcontinental trains operate six round trips per week between Montreal and Halifax, and three round trips per week between Toronto and Vancouver via Winnipeg and Edmonton. The transcontinental trains account for 22% of VIA's revenues and 6% of its ridership.

Seven regional and remote services are operated Canada. Two regional routes serve Matapedia–Gaspe and Victoria–Courtenay, while remote services run from Montreal–Jonquiere, Montreal–Senneterre, Sudbury–White River, Winnipeg–Churchill, and Jasper–Prince Rupert. These seven services account for 2% of VIA's revenues and 3% of its passengers.

Two VIA Rail stations—Montreal Central Station and Quebec Station—allow for level-entry boarding for persons using mobility aids. VIA Rail uses wheelchair lifts at 48 different locations across Canada. As part of its Capital Investment Program, VIA is upgrading and modernizing more than 50 of its passenger stations across Canada. For example, at the Belleville, Oshawa and Cobourg stations, an overhead footbridge has been constructed with an elevator on either side of the tracks to facilitate access.

As part of a program to modernize rail passenger services, VIA is currently undertaking a major overhaul of its fleet of rail cars, which includes extensive changes to improve accessibility. Improvements are being made to Renaissance cars to address the 14 mobility obstacles identified by the Canadian Transportation Agency under the Passenger Rail Car Accessibility Code of Practice. The work being carried out by VIA includes modifications to washrooms, the coach seating area and sleeping car rooms to better accommodate passengers who are mobility impaired.

VIA Rail's Accessibility Policy

VIA Rail Canada offers a free fare to the attendant of a person with a disability who requires assistance with meeting his/her personal needs. In order for a working guide dog or certified service animal to have adequate space, VIA Rail also provides the passenger with a second seat free of charge. If the size of a seat is not adequate for a passenger's size, or if a passenger has a disability for which one seat is not sufficiently comfortable, VIA will offer two side-by-side seats with the second seat at a reduced price. More information on VIA's policies on accessibility is available at http://www.viarail.ca/en/useful-info/special-needs/reduced-mobility

High speed rail

The financial analysis considered a government financing case (wholly public) and a partly private sector-funded case (private sector). The total development costs in 2009 dollars for the full Quebec City–Windsor Corridor are estimated to be between $18.9 billion for the 200 km/h technology and $21.3 billion for the 300 km/h technology. Developing the section between Montreal–Ottawa–Toronto could cost between $9.1 for 200 km/h and $11 billion for 300 km/h. The main findings from the financial analysis for both the public and private sector cases for the full Quebec City–Windsor Corridor indicate that while the project could cover all operating costs, governments would need to contribute significantly to the project development cost and receive no financial return on investment.

Commuter rail

Commuter rail provides service between outlying municipalities and a downtown rail station, and typically focuses on capturing work trips. In this respect, commuter rail differs from other forms of urban transit, which typically promotes mobility throughout an urban area with more diverse origins and destinations. Given that the origins of most commuters using such systems are inter-urban, commuter rail in Canada's larger cities is operated by provincially created transportation agencies.

In Montreal, the provincial government is financing the construction of the Train de l'Est (Eastern train) to connect downtown Montreal to Mascouche on the North Shore of the St. Lawrence. The project was initially budgeted for $300 million, an amount that has since been revised upwards. The province also provided $159 million of the $236 million necessary to buy 10 new Bombardier bi-modal (diesel/electric) locomotives to be used for commuter trains using the Mount-Royal tunnel.

In the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, the Government of Ontario plans to invest over $11.7 billion in its MoveOntario 2020 project, which includes the Big Move regional transportation plan for the region. This plan calls for the construction of 902 kilometres of new or improved rapid transit. While not completely dedicated to commuter rail, Big Move has drafted initial plans that include important capacity expansion, three rail extensions and up to five new rail lines. Finally, the governments of Canada and Ontario each contributed $150,000 for a preliminary engineering study to revive commuter train service between Peterborough and Toronto's Union Station, 120 kilometres away.

Air-rail links

Air-rail links are rail lines that connect major airports to a downtown rail station or hub in order to improve accessibility to airports and improve intermodal connections. These links may take the form of either a dedicated rail line or an extension of an existing urban rail transit system to service an airport. Because air-rail links contribute to the overall efficiency of the transportation system, reduce congestion and improve intermodal connections, the federal and provincial governments have committed significant funding to various air-rail links.

In Vancouver, the federal government provided $450 million, British Columbia provided $435 million, Translink (the provincial agency responsible for transit in the Lower Mainland) provided $334 million, the Vancouver Airport Authority provided $300 million, and the City of Vancouver provided $29 million to build the Canada Line, a 19.2-kilometre urban transit rail link between Richmond, the Vancouver International Airport and Waterfront Station in Downtown Vancouver. The project was delivered through a public-private partnership with SNC-Lavalin and has been in operation since 2009. It has already exceeded ridership projections, with over 110,000 riders a day in 2011.

In Toronto, the Union Station–Pearson Airport link will provide a fast, efficient connection between the busiest passenger rail and air hubs in the country. Construction on this project is expected to begin in the spring of 2012 and be completed in time for the 2015 Pan American Games. The project is expected to cost between $300 to 400 million, including $128 million to build the rail spur to the airport. The federal government, through the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, will provide $68.7 million to upgrade the Georgetown rail corridor, which will be used by both the air-rail link and GO Transit commuter trains. The province of Ontario, through Metrolinx, is funding the balance.

Tourist trains

Tourist trains are a growing sector of passenger rail and generally operate in the spring, summer and fall months. Most trips are one to two hours, although some can encompass one or two days.

The oldest tourist train operation in Canada is the Algoma Central Railway, now a subsidiary of Canadian National, which began promoting same-day return trips from Sault Ste Marie to Canyon, Ontario in the 1960s. The train was completely re-equipped with rebuilt passenger cars and locomotives in 2011.

The Ontario Northland Railway began to operate its Polar Bear Express tourist train between Cochrane and Moosonee, Ontario in the 1960s. More recently, the railway introduced a fall foliage excursion between North Bay and Temagami. The Ontario government announced a $10-million refurbishment program, to be carried out in 2012.

In southern Ontario, the South Simcoe Railway operates steam train excursions out of Tottenham, while the York-Durham Railway operates diesel trips between Uxbridge and Stouffville. Also in this area, Waterloo Central operates steam train excursions from Waterloo, and Port Stanley Terminal Rail operates diesel trips out of Port Stanley.

In Quebec, the Orford Express provides gourmet dinner train service out of Sherbrooke. A new service, the Train Le Massif of Charlevoix, began service from Quebec City to the Charlevoix region in 2011. The train is scheduled to operate various itineraries year-round—a first for this sector.

Rocky Mountaineer Railtours operates two-day excursions from Vancouver to Jasper and Banff. The Canadian Pacific Railway operates the Royal Canadian Pacific, providing steam and diesel excursions on multiple day trips in Alberta and British Columbia.

Steam train excursions are operated in western Canada by Prairie Dog Central Railway from Winnipeg, Alberta Prairie Railway from Stettler, Kettle Valley Steam Railway from Summerland, Kamloops Heritage Railway from Kamloops, and Alberni Pacific Railway from Port Alberni. The Omega Heritage Railway Association will begin excursions out of Omega, Saskatchewan in 2012.

The White Pass & Yukon Railway, which carries more than 300,000 passengers from Skagway, Alaska into the Yukon through the historic White Pass, is the busiest tourist railway and the only international tourist train in North America. The company has constructed new passenger cars and rebuilt its locomotive fleet to handle this market.

8.5 Environment

Regulating locomotive emissions

Almost all locomotives used by North American railway companies are built to meet U.S. emissions standards. The principal locomotive air pollutant emissions are NOx , PM , SOx , VOC and CO . The main GHG s linked to locomotive emissions are carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

Jurisdiction of Environment and Rail Transportation

The framework of environment-related legislation governing the railway industry is shared among federal authorities—mainly Transport Canada and Environment Canada—and with provincial ministries. Within this framework, numerous pieces of environmental legislation focus on protecting air, water, soil, wildlife, and the public interest.

The Railway Safety Act provides the legislative basis for developing regulations governing rail safety, security and some aspects of environmental impacts of rail operations in Canada. The Railway Safety Act provides authority for the Governor in Council to make regulations concerning the release of pollutants into the environment from the operation of railway equipment by federally regulated railway companies.

Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, Environment Canada sets regulations for dealing with spills on federally regulated railway rights-of-way.

Provinces have jurisdiction for provincially regulated railways. Provinces are also responsible for their municipalities through various regulatory instruments that govern planning and development, emergency services, and environmental protection. Provinces have jurisdiction over spills and environmental incidents on provincial lands, including environmental response, clean-up and remediation.

In February 2011, Transport Canada completed preliminary consultations on the development of locomotive criteria air contaminant emission regulations. Six consultation meetings were held in Ottawa, Montreal, Vancouver and Detroit. A total of 16 formal written submissions were received. Canadian railway companies and their association, the Railway Association of Canada, as well as other stakeholders identified the alignment of Canadian and U.S. regulatory requirements as an important priority.

In addition to regulations for air pollutant emissions, regulators in both Canada and the U.S. have committed to address GHG emissions from locomotives as part of the Joint Action Plan for the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council.

Locomotive emissions monitoring

Overall fuel consumed by railway operations in Canada increased from 1,770 million litres in 2009 to 1,932 million litres in 2010. This 9.2% increase in fuel consumption was largely attributable to a 13.9% increase in revenue tonne-kilometres and offset by improvements in energy efficiency (see Tables RA6 and RA7).

Railway environmental initiatives

Canada's Class I freight railways invest in the economic and environmental sustainability of their railway operations through fleet renewal programs, technology improvements, and adoption of best practices. Both of Canada's Class I freight railways have fleet renewal programs in place to rebuild or replace less efficient locomotives with newer, more fuel-efficient models. New locomotives are built to a higher environmental standard and emit fewer GHG and CAC than older locomotives. Canada's Class I freight railways have continued to deploy new operational measures and technology aimed at reducing locomotive emissions. Initiatives to reduce fuel consumption and emissions include improvements to equipment, operations, technology and infrastructure.

Examples of various initiatives include:

  • Crew training and incentives—training programs that boost awareness of the importance of fuel conservation practices.
  • Manual shut-down of locomotive engines—idle shut-down policies in place for locomotives not equipped with anti-idling systems.
  • “Block” consolidation of cars with similar destinations—joining cars headed the same way reduces delays and increases fluidity at rail yards and terminals.

Research in Environmental Improvements for Rail Transportation

Government, industry and academic stakeholders continue to work collaboratively and conduct research to facilitate improvements to rolling stock (e.g. developing and testing novel engine concepts), infrastructure interface (e.g. developing new rail materials) and operational improvements (e.g. examining alternative fuels and fuel sources). Current rail research activities also include improvements to measurement, monitoring and verification methodologies in support of rail emission reductions. Currently, Transport Canada's Transportation Development Centre is undertaking a technology and infrastructure scan to make recommendations on promising emission reduction technologies and research opportunities in this area, to inform regulations and a five year research agenda for future policy development.

  • Anti-idling technologies—these include, for example, automatic stop/start devices that help railways conserve fuel and reduce emissions by automatically shutting down locomotives at rest.
  • Low-idling engines—those that idle at a reduced speed when a train is coasting.
  • Rail lubrication systems—solutions to reduce friction between the rail and freight cars, thus requiring less engine effort to maintain speed.
  • Improved track structures—enhancements aimed at reducing friction caused by various track features (e.g. sharp curves and uneven roadbeds), as well as investment in double tracking and siding extensions, which lead to efficiency improvements.
  • Rail lubrication—trackside flange lubricators and locomotive-mounted wheel flange lubricators to reduce fuel consumption.
  • Co-production—sharing of tracks to allow for faster and more efficient operations.

The combined effect of these initiatives and technologies has enabled Canada's Class I freight railways to improve fuel efficiency by approximately 7.3% ( CN ) and 4.1% ( CPR ), increasing both the economic and environmental efficiency of rail operations and contributing to the long-term sustainability of Canada's rail freight industry.

8.6 Safety

Railway Safety Act Review

In 2007, following a series of high-profile derailments in Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia, the Minister of Transport appointed an independent panel to review the existing Railway Safety Act ( RSA ) and make recommendations for improving both the Act and railway safety in general.

Over one year, the panel gathered input from a full spectrum of stakeholders, including railway companies and their associations, railway unions, shippers, suppliers, other national organizations, other levels of government including municipalities, and the public. These extensive consultations resulted in a final report, Stronger Ties: A Shared Commitment to Railway Safety, which included more than 50 recommendations for improving safety in the rail industry. As a result of this report, the federal government introduced the Safer Railways Act (S-4) in the Senate on October 6, 2011 to amend the RSA . It was approved on December 7, 2011, and tabled in the House of Commons the following day.

Safety management systems

Jurisdiction of Rail Safety

Railways that cross provincial boundaries are under federal jurisdiction. For these railways—including CN , CPR and VIA, and more than 50 shortline railways—safety is governed by the Railway Safety Act.

Transport Canada also has agreements with seven provinces to provide inspection services for railways under provincial jurisdiction.

12 Principles of Railway SMS

  1. Railway safety policy and targets are communicated
    to employees.
  2. Authorities, responsibilities and accountabilities for safety are clearly defined at all levels in the railway.
  3. Employees and unions are involved in developing a
    railway's SMS .
  4. Systems are in place to identify applicable safety regulations, exemptions and compliance.
  5. A process is established for identifying safety issues and evaluating and classifying risk.
  6. Risk control strategies exist.
  7. Systems are set up for accident and incident reporting, investigation, analysis and corrective action.
  8. Systems are in place to ensure employee training and compliance with all safety requirements.
  9. Data is collection and analyzed to assess the safety performance of the railway company.
  10. Procedures are followed for internal safety audits, reviews, monitoring and evaluations of SMS .
  11. Systems are created for monitoring management-approved corrective actions resulting from SMS process and procedures.
  12. Documentation describing the systems for each component of the SMS is consolidated.

In 2011, Transport Canada completed work on improving training for Transport Canada SMS auditors to enhance their capacity to assess the safety performance of railway companies.

Safety performance data

The number of railway accidents has been declining steadily in Canada over the past decade (see Table S1 and Figure S2). From a high of 1,475 in 2005, the number of railway accidents is now down to 1,023, while fatalities were down to 71 in 2011, from a high of 103 in 2005. Most importantly, the accident rate—the number of accidents per million train miles—has been on a downward slope, decreasing from 16 in 2001 to 11 in 2011.

Between 2007 and 2011, crossing collisions were down 22.5% to reach 169 in 2011, while trespassing accidents were down a third to 67 in 2011 (see Tables S3 and S5). Main track derailments, however, have been on the upswing, after sharp declines in 2008 and 2009. In 2011, they reached 103, still one third below levels reported in 2007.

Transportation Safety Board

Transport Canada has made progress on the Transportation Safety Board's ( TSB ) list of issues and related recommendations.

With respect to the auditing and enforcement oversight of railway safety management systems, guidelines and tools have been developed to assist railways with SMS implementation.

In February 2011, Transport Canada began a Canada-wide study of long-train operations. Phase I preliminary results have been submitted and are under review by Transport Canada, with the objective of developing guidelines for train marshalling and handling.

On November 11, 2011, revisions to Track Safety Rules were approved these will come into effect on May 25, 2012. The revised rules include significant changes to rail testing requirements (based on tonnage and class of track) and address “poor rail surface” concerns.


In terms of harmonizing rail safety regulations with other nations, Canada's biggest partner is the U.S. However, in 2011, Canada began working with Mexico to ensure harmonization across North America. Key activities in 2011 were as follows:



A research project—led by Transport Canada and involving rail industry stakeholders—is underway to investigate factors that influence track-related failures, with the aim of developing tools, methods and technologies to improve track performance. This research also aims to determine more effective and efficient techniques to monitor and identify track-related defects and potential failure conditions on a network-wide basis.

Transport Canada also conducts regular rail-related research to strengthen the safety of Canada's rail sector. Research results are instrumental in providing science-based evidence to inform forward-looking policies, regulations, standards and codes to improve the safety of the Canadian transportation sector. Much of this research is conducted in a collaborative manner through the Railway Research Advisory Board ( RRAB )—an industry/government committee mandated to advance the safety of Canada's rail industry. The financial contribution from the federal government is leveraged by at least a 50% contribution from industry.

  • Visual Behaviour and Conspicuity/Effectiveness of Grade Crossing Elements
  • Investigation of Intrusion and Obstacle Detection Systems for Rural and Low Density Rail Grade Crossings
  • The first volume of a report on a decision support tool for prioritizing safety improvement programs at high-risk grade crossings

8.7 Security

Several action items in the joint Canada-U.S. Perimeter Security Declaration involve rail security elements, including the Integrated Inbound Cargo action item, which strives to streamline the movement of in-transit cargo to and from the U.S. This activity will include pilot projects led by the Canada Border Services Agency and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and supported by Transport Canada. One of these preliminary projects will examine the inbound movement of goods along the Prince Rupert–Fort Frances corridor that crosses Western Canada.

  1. The year for which the latest data is available.
  2. Environment Canada (2011). Canada's Emissions Trends.
  3. Environment Canada (2011). National Pollutant Release Inventory.
  4. Environment Canada (2011). Canada's Emissions Trends.
  5. TSI operates the Deltaport and Vanterm container terminals at the port of Metro Vancouver. It handles about 70% of containers in Vancouver, making it the largest container operator in Canada.
  6. See http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/policy/acg-acgb-high-speed-rail-2956.htm
  7. For more information, visit www.railcan.ca/publications/emissions

Transport Canada is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. In response, we have issued some transportation-related measures and guidance. Please check if any of these measures apply to you.

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Why will fellow oral historians be interested in your book?

I believe my book offers an interesting mixture of oral history with archival research. This is not a biography, but it does weave together the critical moments in Cuarón’s life that helps create a gripping personal narrative. What my book sought to do was to disaffirm the notion that Mexican American labor and working class activism was inconsequential to the broader movement. As with many oral histories, what results is an account that brings the archival records to life, illuminating the resilience and determination of a people to make their lives matter. In this respect, Cuarón’s life—as with all the subjects—is the glue that helps bind this history all together.

B. Flexibility of usage

A container can transport a wide variety of goods ranging from raw materials (coal, wheat), manufactured goods, and cars to frozen products. There are specialized containers for transporting liquids (oil and chemical products) and perishable food items in refrigerated containers (which now account for 70% of all refrigerated cargo transported). About 2.9 million TEUs of reefers were being used by 2018. Discarded containers are often used as storage, housing, office, and retail structures.

As an indivisible unit, the container carries a unique identification number and a size type code, enabling transport management not in terms of loads, but in terms of units. This identification number is also used to ensure that it is carried by an authorized agent of the cargo owner and is verified at terminal gates, increasingly in an automated fashion. Computerized management enables to reduce waiting times considerably and to know the location of containers (or batches of containers) at any time. It assigns containers according to the priority, the destination, and the available transport capacities. Transport companies book slots in maritime or railway convoys that they use to distribute containers under their responsibility. As such, the container has become a production, transport, and distribution unit.

These are some of the various logos used by the LIRR though the years. Click on the fourth image, Dashing Dan, for a larger view. Click on Dashing Dottie in the fifth image for the story of her first appearance.

If you would like to make any additions or have any corrections, please let ME know.

*Note: This website is not affiliated in any way with MTA Long Island Rail Road, and has been created for historical information purposes only. The official website of MTA Long Island Rail Road is located HERE .

Also note that all pictures and text appearing in this website (except those specifically attributed to other sources) are Copyright 1998-2013 Robert W. Andersen. Permission is granted to others to use most of the pictures and text for non-commercial informational purposes, provided the source (either myself, Robert W. Andersen or by reference to this website) is acknowledged. Other pictures attributed to other persons, such as Dave Keller, Ron Ziel, Big John or Vincent Seyfried, may not be used without their permission.

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4. How to search for The National Archives&rsquo railway records

The best way to start is to search Discovery, our catalogue using keywords such as:

  • the railway company name
  • a name of a publication such as a pamphlet or staff magazine
  • report name
  • committee name
  • location of an accident

Many railway records have the department codes:

Refine your search by these collections or by date, or use other relevant keywords. You may also wish to browse our catalogue if your search is unsuccessful.

Great British Railways: for the passenger

New public body Great British Railways to integrate the railways and deliver passenger-focused travel with simpler, modern fares and reliable services.

  • Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail to reform Britain’s railways and launch a new era for passengers
  • biggest change in 25 years sees creation of new public body Great British Railways – a single, familiar brand with united, accountable leadership
  • simpler, modern fares delivered, starting with new flexible season tickets on sale from 21 June and a new Great British Railways website for all tickets and clearer compensation
  • reforms support delivery of a financially sustainable railway as country recovers from coronavirus (COVID-19), with new contracts focused on punctuality and improved efficiency, making it easier and cheaper to plan maintenance, renewal and upgrades

A quarter-century of fragmentation on the railways will end as they come under single, accountable national leadership, as the government today (20 May 2021) unveils a new plan for rail that prioritises passengers and freight.

The new Passenger Service Contracts will include strong incentives for operators to run high-quality services and increase passenger numbers. They will not be one-size-fits-all: as demand recovers, operators on some routes, particularly long-distance, will have more commercial freedom. Affordable walk-on fares and season ticket prices will be protected.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published today, sets out the path towards a truly passenger-focused railway, underpinned by new contracts that prioritise punctual and reliable services, the rapid delivery of a ticketing revolution, with new flexible and convenient tickets and long-term proposals to build a modern, greener and accessible network.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

I am a great believer in rail, but for too long passengers have not had the level of service they deserve.

By creating Great British Railways and investing in the future of the network, this government will deliver a rail system the country can be proud of.

Grant Shapps Transport Secretary said:

Our railways were born and built to serve this country, to forge stronger connections between our communities and provide people with an affordable, reliable and rapid service. Years of fragmentation, confusion and over-complication have seen that vision fade and passengers failed. That complicated and broken system ends today.

The pandemic has seen the government take unprecedented steps to protect services and jobs. It’s now time to kickstart reforms that give the railways solid and stable foundations for the future, unleashing the competitive, innovative and expert abilities of the private sector, and ensuring passengers come first.

Great British Railways marks a new era in the history of our railways. It will become a single familiar brand with a bold new vision for passengers – of punctual services, simpler tickets and a modern and green railway that meets the needs of the nation.

Keith Williams, Chair of the Williams Review, said:

Our Plan is built around the passenger, with new contracts which prioritise excellent performance and better services, better value fares and creating clear leadership and real accountability when things go wrong.

Our railway history – rich with Victorian pioneers and engineers, steam and coal, industry and ingenuity – demands a bright future. This plan is the path forward, reforming our railways to ensure they work for everyone in this country.

COVID-19 has caused deep, structural challenges to the railway, with use still far below pre-pandemic levels. This strategy re-emphasises our commitment to rail, with tens of billions of pounds invested in more electrification, new and reopened lines and a rail revolution.

In the short and medium term, we will work closely with the sector on measures to encourage passengers back to rail. To reflect changes in the traditional commute and working life, the government has today announced that a new national flexi season ticket will be on sale this summer, with potential savings of hundreds of pounds a year for 2 and 3 day-a-week commuters. Tickets will be on sale on 21 June, ready for use on 28 June.

The new Passenger Service Contracts will also help to build a more financially stable industry. By removing barriers to new market entrants, including by no longer basing competitions on complex and uncertain revenue forecasts, private operators will be challenged to provide a competitive and customer-focused offer, delivering greater value-for-money for the taxpayer.

The journey to this new passenger-focused model has begun today. New National Rail Contracts will be announced this year. They will be in operation for 2 years and act as a bridge to reform.

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