Rail transportation in Canada, 2020

Release date: April 8, 2022
Infographic: Rail transportation in Canada, 2020
Description: Rail transportation in Canada, 2020

In Canada, CN and CP are the mainline freight companies, along with several short-line companies, while VIA Rail is the mainline passenger company.

The industry’s total operating revenue was $16.5 billion, while total operating expenses were $10.9 billion.

There were 31,607 employees in the rail transportation industry, whose average salary was $95,937.

There were 2,470 freight locomotives and 57,158 freight cars.

Origin and destination of all rail shipments, by weight

Alberta was the top origin for cargo carried by railways, while British Columbia was the top destination.


  • Canada: 86.6%
  • United States and Mexico: 13.4%


  • Canada: 73.3%
  • United States and Mexico: 26.7%

Table 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 1. The information is grouped by Region (appearing as row headers), Tonnage of commodities (appearing as column headers).
Region Tonnage of commodities
Origin Destination
Atlantic Region 24,614,163 7,040,786
Quebec 22,409,616 39,918,724
Ontario 27,834,394 37,488,003
Manitoba 12,245,887 4,227,411
Saskatchewan 58,306,788 4,570,107
Alberta 76,708,316 20,737,099
British Columbia 62,559,342 121,149,090
United States and Mexico 45,566,004 95,113,289

Non-intermodal traffic accounted for 88% of all tonnage moved by rail.  Of the 321.7 million tonnes of shipments, coal was the top commodity moved by rail, at 43.1 million tonnes.

Table 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Table 2. The information is grouped by Top Commodities (appearing as row headers), Tonnage (appearing as column headers).
Top Commodities Tonnage
Coal 43,050,500
Mixed loads or unidentified freight 31,262,809
Wheat 28,356,267
Potash 22,482,766
Iron ores and concentrates 19,008,202
Fuel oils and crude petroleum 15,220,456

Source: Statistics Canada, Annual Survey on Rail Transportation, 2020, Rail Commodity Origin and Destination Statistics, 2020.

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: