Ribbons of Steel: Linking Canada's Economic Future

Study Released May 29, 2015

Study No. 146

From the moment of the Last Spike of the CP railway at Craigellachie, British Columbia and the completion of the transcontinental journey, railways have played an important part of transporting commodities and people across this vast nation, connecting its provinces to each other and to the United States (US) and the rest of the world. And despite the dramatic changes in our society since Lord Strathcona drove the last spike in 1885, railways continue to play an important part, linking Canada’s economic future.

The objective of this study is to determine the makeup of commodities currently transported by the rail system in Canada and use that information combined with a perspective of future growth or decline on a commodity by commodity basis to establish a future view of the commodities that could be moving on the rail system in 2024. The base data available from Statistics Canada and other agencies that provided a snapshot of the commodities being transported on the rail network from an origin, destination and import/export basis at the level required for this analysis was determined to be year-end 2012 data (released by Statistics Canada on March 20, 2014).

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