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Railways report “record” year in 2007

Canada’s railways carried a “record-breaking” 361.6 billion tonne-kilometres of total freight in 2007, the Railway Association of Canada reported Tuesday.

The association, which represents 55 member railways including Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), said its freight workload grew by 1.6 per cent year-over-year compared to 2006.

Intermodal freight continued as the fastest-growing commodity over the decade, up 66.9 per cent, the RAC said, followed by mineral traffic, up 27.6 per cent.

The railway industry consumed 8.2 per cent more fuel in 2007 than in 1998, the RAC said, noting its freight workload increased 21.8 per cent between those years, while intercity passenger traffic was up by 13.3 per cent.

Intercity passenger traffic increased 4.7 per cent to 4.5 million passengers from 2006 to 2007, the RAC said, while rail commuter traffic “jumped” 4.6 per cent to 63.4 million.

There were 1,495 federally and provincially-regulated freight railway-related accidents in 2007, a decrease of 99 year-over-year, the RAC said.

Railways “established new records for some key financial, workload and productivity indicators last year, but not as many as the banner year prior,” RAC president Cliff Mackay said in the association’s release.

Canada’s railways operate about 775 trains a day in Canada and keep their environmental footprint to only three per cent of the transport sector’s greenhouse gas emissions, the RAC noted, adding that rail lines can move a tonne of freight 170 km on one litre of fuel.

RAC member railways’ productivity increased one per cent from 2006 to 2007 and 64.1 per cent over the decade, the group said.

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