About the industry

Transportation plays a vital role in maintaining Alberta’s global competitiveness. Efficient transportation is vital for Alberta shippers and producers to access the west coast and the growing Asian market.

Industry fast facts

  • The Transportation and Warehousing sector contributes $11.2 billion annually to the Alberta economy and employs more than 105,000 people.
  • About 87% of all Alberta exports are shipped to the US.
  • Alberta’s second largest market, Asia-Pacific, accounts for 8% of Alberta’s exports.
  • Pipelines are the major transportation mode for Alberta products, with commodity prices producing export values up to $52 billion and representing approximately 65% of all shipments.
  • More than $3.6 billion worth of goods was shipped out of Alberta’s airports to destinations around the world.
  • There are approximately 20,000 trucking firms operating in Alberta.
  • Alberta’s scheduled airports currently handle over 18 million passengers a year.
  • Together, Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway operate approximately 9,600 route kilometres in Alberta and transport in excess of 60 million tonnes into and out of the province.
  • The rail mode accounts for approximately $18 billion of Alberta's export values, representing 22% of all shipments.

Areas of Expertise

A diverse array of transportation options allows for an integrated approach in transporting goods to both major off-shore and North American markets.

Trucking

Alberta’s highly developed road network provides the trucking industry with excellent access to international trade corridors. In addition to moving over 60% of all freight within the province, trucks are responsible for about $7 billion or 29% of Alberta’s non-pipeline international exports with 95% of all Alberta truck exports destined for the United States. The trucking industry is well represented in Alberta and accounts for 21% of the total heavy truck population in Canada. Registrations of heavy trucks have increased by 46% in the last 10 years, reflecting rapid economic growth in the province, specifically in the energy resource sector which has contributed to Alberta’s world renowned expertise in the movement of over-dimensional and overweight materials.

Rail

Alberta’s Class 1 rail carriers are Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway, the two transcontinental railways in Canada. Both provide direct, single line rail service to major market gateways on the west coast, in the East, and the U.S. Midwest. Including domestic trade, Alberta rail volumes of bulk and intermodal traffic represent approximately $18 billion in product value. Edmonton and Calgary each have two intermodal container facilities with import and export traffic shipped primarily through the Port of Vancouver.

Air Cargo

Air Cargo plays a vital role in moving Alberta’s high value and time sensitive exports to and from global markets, and move more than 150,000 metric tonnes of cargo each year. The two major airports at Edmonton and Calgary, where most of the province’s airport activity occurs, together account for an annual total economic impact of $4.75 billion. The Alberta aviation network is made up of two major international airports, 12 regional airports and 72 community airports. The Calgary International Airport is Canada’s third busiest in terms of passenger movements, while the Edmonton International Airport is Canada’s fifth busiest.

Pipelines

Alberta’s oil and natural gas industries require a secure and reliable pipeline infrastructure to ensure the effective movement of the province’s bitumen, crude oil and natural gas to both domestic and North American markets. Alberta regional pipelines bring diluted crude bitumen (dilbit) and synthetic crude oil (SCO) from producing regions to pipeline terminals in Alberta (Edmonton and Hardisty) and to local upgraders and refineries. Alberta’s pipeline network is well integrated in the North American crude oil and natural gas markets with connections to the West Coast, the Eastern and Western United States, and important refining areas near Chicago and the Gulf Coast. Due to the Alberta’s grow supplies of crude oil and increasing demand for the product, there are opportunities to further expand the established pipeline infrastructure particularly to the U.S. Gulf Coast and the west coast, to eventually reach more of the overseas markets.