The railways have formed the backbone of the Canadian transportation system for well over a century. The Canadian railway system encompasses some 44,000 route-kilometres of track between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Railway transportation continues to provide the most economical means of moving bulk commodities such as grain, coal, potash and petrochemicals over vast distances. Every year, the Canadian railway system moves almost 450 billion revenue tonne-kilometres of freight to destinations throughout North America.

Railways in Canada

Unlike the public roads, which are provided and maintained collectively by local, provincial and federal governments, a railway company is responsible for its own infrastructure. Canada's two principal carriers, Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific (CP), own extensive domestic railway networks.

CN is larger of the two, with over 32,000 route-kilometres of track in Canada. CP operates over 22,000 route-kilometres of domestic track. Together these carriers control a majority of the national railway system:

Map of Canada's railway network

Railways in Alberta

Alberta's railway network comprises about 7,000 route-kilometres of track and represents approximately 16% of the overall Canadian network. Carriers operating in the province include CN, CP and a number of shoreline railways.

The two main carriers are linked through the Edmonton-Calgary corridor. Each company operates numerous branch lines for rail car transport of bulk commodities such as grain, lumber and petrochemicals. Container traffic passes through terminals in both major cities.

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