CANADIAN RAILWAYS: Assisting Canada’s Environmental Performance

November 23, 2012 10:00 am
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Canada’s railways run an average of 1,100 passenger and goods trains every day, often over some of the world’s most rugged terrain and in some of the world’s worst weather conditions. Canada’s railways have the best safety record in North America and provide by far the safest means of ground transportation in Canada. Yet this is but one of the many achievements that make Canadian rail a great story to share.

Environmental policies in Canada, at federal and provincial levels of government, are being developed in response to public demands for improved air quality, reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and increased energy efficiency. In response, the Canadian government issued Turning the Corner: Canada’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution in 2007. The plan provides an outline of policies and programs to improve air quality and reduce GHG emissions, including a commitment to put in place regulations on locomotive emissions. Provinces are also proceeding with their own strategies and programs to mitigate the growth in GHG emissions and improve air quality. Like other countries, Canada is faced with the challenge of reducing emissions growth in a highly competitive global economy. At the same time, Canada’s economic strength and community well-being must be assured.

And this is where the rail sector can be a key component in an environmental strategy to reduce emissions associated with transportation activity.

Railways are vital to Canada’s economy and society. They are an extension of the nation’s industry and resource base. They provide a seamless system linking the regions to national, North American and global markets through major centres, borders and trade gateways. They contribute $10 billion annually to the economy, directly employ some 35,000 people and handle 75 per cent of the nation’s surface freight on a tonne-kilometer basis.

Canada’s freight railways are in a continual process of investing, modernizing and adapting to meet and support market demands and improve the efficiency of their operations. Major advances in locomotive technology, infrastructure and communications systems have been introduced and widely implemented across the industry. System-wide, continuing improvements in operations have been undertaken to optimize capacity and fluidity. These include areas such as formal track-sharing arrangements between railways, expanded or new terminals, and efficient intermodal/container and bulk movements. In addition, since the mid-1990s, many short- line railways have been formed across Canada to maintain the links between the regions, mainlines and the global economy.

The rail passenger sector, now carrying 72 million passengers annually, has been responding and adapting to the market and consumer needs. The sector is investing in the modernization of rolling stock, expanding its facilities and providing increasingly attractive travel options for urban commuters within high- density population corridors, as well as increasing demand for intercity travel.

Canada’s freight railways pay their own way; they finance, build, operate, police and pay property tax on their right-of-ways. In 2010, Canada’s railways invested more than $1.75 billion in their infrastructure and rolling stock. When it is considered that Canada’s transportation infra- structure deficit may be as high as $100 billion, the railways’ independent ability to efficiently serve Canadian industry and travelers becomes of very high value. Despite vast distances, rugged topography and climate extremes, Canada’s railways are among the most efficient and well-managed in the world.

Importantly, Canada’s railways are also making major environmental contributions. Through separate, small footprint rights-of-way, they provide a major capacity and mobility alternative to roads in crowded corridors and in urban areas. They use only one-third of the land for capacity equivalent to roads. In addition, one train can move one tonne of freight 180 kilometres on a single litre of fuel. In all, railways relieve congestion pressure on roads, provide environmentally attractive options, and improve transportation safety.

The rail industry is ready to move forward and is attuned to the Canadian environmental imperative. With its fuel and emissions efficiency, its small footprint and its ability to move on rights-of-way separate from congested highways, rail has a unique environmental effectiveness.

For the Canadian transportation system, the growth in GHG emissions is no longer sustainable. Canada must encourage and enable an effective and sustainable transportation system to serve the nation and its regions.

A system that enhances movement of freight and passengers, and continually strengthens Canada’s international competitiveness, is critical to our nation’s economic well-being.

In the face of growing international trade competition and declining economic growth, Canada must assure reliable, seamless capacity and “reach” for shippers nationally, in North American markets, and internationally. Any Canadian solution must recognize the need to better harmonize our transportation regulations and policies with those of the United States – to assure unhindered, fluid movement of our goods and our country’s future competitiveness.

While transportation as a whole is facing major challenges, rail has achieved tremendous improvements in fuel efficiency that have enhanced its environmental performance. For example, the 1995-2005 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Railway Association of Canada and Environment Canada demonstrated the great value of a voluntary, soundly- based agreement between industry and government. The MOU allowed the railways to manage their fleet and operations to meet their operational and customers’ needs while sharply reducing workload emissions.

This voluntary approach has proven to be very successful. In the period of the MOU, freight rail revenue tonne- kilometres increased by 22.5 per cent, but aggregate fuel consumption was hardly affected as railways met the challenge and brought into service new equipment and operating practices. Further, emissions from rail operations of smog-forming oxides of nitrogen have averaged below 115 kilotonnes, despite the unprecedented traffic growth over this time period. Passenger railways realized similar improvements in emissions reductions on a passenger-km basis. The current Environmental Performance Agreement between the railways, Environment Canada and Transport Canada for 2006-2010 built upon the success of the 1995- 2005 MOU. It recognizes more fuel-efficiency initiatives and also encourages partnerships among all railways to use research, development and assessments of other emissions- reduction strategies.

The program includes agreed perfor- mance objectives to reduce GHG and criteria air containments emissions, reporting accountability on locomo- tive emissions, consistent monitor- ing, a publicly available annual report, a progressive schedule of fleet mod- ernization, and targeted continuous improvement in workload emissions, recognizing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards. It also requires the rail industry to develop and submit a GHG Reduction Action Plan to the federal government within six months of signing the MOU. The rail industry was the first industry in Canada to formally submit a GHG Reduction Action Plan to the federal government.

The benefits of such an agreement and process are:

• Targeted workload emissions, with annual reporting; is simple to administer.
• Timely implementation for government with no regulatory overhead.
• Voluntary/flexible options as a means to achieve reduced emissions.
• New initiatives and operating practices.
• A multi–year industry commitment to the desired environmental result.
• Multi–stakeholder research and development.

Canada’s rail industry has made a significant contribution to environ– mental sustainability in the past and it is well positioned to play an important role in the future. The sector is ready to work with governments, communities and other private sector partners to do its part in finding a sustainable future for Canadians. The industry’s members have proposed a number of initiatives which they believe will make a significant, cost- effective contribution. At the same time, the country’s railways will continue to assist Canadians with ongoing efforts to ensure the nation’s social and economic well-being.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

• Transportation accounts for 18 per cent of Canada’s GHG emissions — at 190,000 kilotonnes per year, one of the highest emissions levels for transport per capita in the world.
• 87 per cent of transportation GHG emissions are attributed to road transportation.
• Only 3 per cent of transportation GHG emissions are attributed to freight and passenger rail.
• If 20 per cent of current truck freight were shifted to rail, Canada would realize a reduction of 5.75 million tonnes, of GHG emissions annually.

Energy Efficiency

• Canada has some of the highest levels of road freight usage/intensity per capita in the world. It uses 23 billion litres of diesel fuel annually.

• Rail moves more freight on a tonne–km basis than road, yet uses only 1.76 billion litres of diesel annually.

 

 

Rail on the Rise

October 15, 2012 1:55 pm
OLM_Rail_CP_inter_stacker-006_hr

GETTING PRODUCTS TO TIDEWATER AS EFFICIENTLY AS POSSIBLE

Energy is a key market for Canadian Pacific (CP) and the increase in traffic has been particularly strong as a result of a targeted growth strategy. Energy-related traffic represented about 45 per cent of this portfolio’s revenue in 2011.

With an extensive rail network and proven expertise in moving energy, CP offers a competitive option for transporting energy-related products, including crude oil, to and from key locations in North America. CP’s successful market development activities have enabled it to successfully take advantage of access to the Bakken oil formation, the Marcellus gas formation and the Alberta oil sands cluster.

CP has a strong position for long-term participation in the energy play through the positioning of its network in the Canadian and U.S. Bakken regions (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota), the fracture-sand-producing areas in the U.S. Midwest, and through shortlines and transload facilities that extend its reach.

The Marcellus Shale lies under the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York. The Marcellus is purported to be the largest natural gas reserve in the United States.

CP’s Northeast U.S. network, transload facilities and shortline partnerships enable it to participate in the movement of drilling and construction materials; primarily fracture sand, steel pipe and chemicals. The strength of CP’s network positions it to access key fracture sand production areas in the U.S. Midwest.

The Alberta Industrial Heartland (AIH) is one of the premier chemical and energy-related processing districts in North America and is known for its concentration of oil refineries and a major oil sands upgrading facility. The location is ideal for the development of future upgraders due to its proximity to the Alberta oil sands and offers growth opportunities for shipments into and out of the region by rail.

CP’s automotive business consists of three core finished vehicle traffic segments: import vehicles that move through Port Metro Vancouver to Eastern Canadian markets; Canadian-produced vehicles that ship to the U.S. from Ontario production facilities; and U.S.-produced vehicles that travel cross-border into Canadian markets. In all of these segments, CP’s business has been built on strategic alliances with major car manufacturers and designing services to meet supply chain needs.

CP’s automotive franchise is built around strong industry transplant production companies, such as Toyota and Honda, sometimes referenced as the New Domestics. CP’s relationship and business within this segment has grown steadily. Today, the New Domestic segment represents almost 40 per cent of automotive carloads.

CP’s intermodal portfolio involves the movement of freight through multiple modes of transportation (rail, ship, truck) and includes domestic and international services.

Domestic intermodal primarily involves moving manufactured consumer products in containers within North America. As customers’ shipping requirements evolve and their supply chains become more complex, CP believes there will be a growing need for both door-to-door and more value-added services such as Canadian Pacific Logistics Solutions (CPLS) and co-location opportunities. (Co-location refers to customers constructing warehouses adjacent to CP intermodal facilities.)
International intermodal services are the movement of marine containers to and from the ports of Vancouver, Montreal, New York and Philadelphia and into inland ports across Canada and the U.S.

CP has been able to leverage growth through its expanded Western Corridor and strong network of 14 modern intermodal terminals in Canada and the U.S.

CP’s strategy is to be proactive in ensuring infrastructure capacity and to that end, the railway has acquired land for future terminal expansions in Edmonton, Montreal and Regina.
CP also has a long-train strategy to drive increased train lengths and improve service. Long trains with distributed power configurations reduce lateral forces, enhance locomotive productivity and create safer operations. The long-train strategy includes targeted infrastructure enhancements and the use of proprietary train marshaling software, which maximizes the use of distributed locomotive power.

Railway investments and innovative improvements, which in the rail business means depending on a stable regulatory environment, have created an efficient and reliable asset for Canadian exporters. “Hopefully, these improvements can continue” said Bruce Burrows, RAC’s vice-president of Public and Corporate Affairs. “As more resources become accessible in Canada, modern rail will be an essential component providing access to national and international markets”.

The Harper government is further strengthening Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway advantages
In February 2012, the Government of Canada announced a $15-million contribution to the Ridley Island Road, Rail and Utility Corridor (RRUC) project at the Port of Prince Rupert, B.C. Together with contributions from the Government of British Columbia, CN Rail and the Prince Rupert Port Authority, this $90-million project will expand capacity and operations at the Port of Prince Rupert, a vital part of the world-class transportation network that makes up Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway.

“Investments in projects such as the RRUC are strengthening Canada’s competitive advantages and further positioning Canada as the gateway of choice for global supply chains between Asia and North America,” said Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. “As a result of these strategic investments and partnerships, Canadian exports to the Asia-Pacific region have reached record levels.”

The RRUC project is a joint public- and private-sector investment that will provide road and rail access, along with utility services, to 1,000 acres of multi-user heavy industrial land that is accessible through the deep-sea terminals at the Port of Prince Rupert. The project features the development of a common user rail corridor, roads and access to port property. Investments at the Port of Prince Rupert will support Canada’s international trade with Asia.

“Building capacity at the Port of Prince Rupert is necessary for the expansion of Canada’s trade with fast-growing Asian economies,” said Don Krusel, president and chief executive officer of the Prince Rupert Port Authority. “This investment unlocks the sustainable development of port infrastructure and industrial waterfront that will benefit industries across Canada.” Canada’s West Coast ports are more than two days closer to high-growth Asian markets than any other ports in North America.

Since 2006, the Government of Canada has partnered with all four western provinces, municipalities and the private sector to announce Asia-Pacific Gateway infrastructure projects worth more than $3.5 billion, including federal contributions of over $1.4 billion.

The Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway
The Continental Gateway is a key component of Canada’s multimodal transportation system. The central location of the Continental Gateway facilitates international trade through the Port of Montreal and the domestic inputs towards foreign trade with the United States and other key trading partners. The Continental Gateway includes strategic ports, airports, intermodal facilities and border crossings as well as essential road, rail and marine infrastructure that ensures this transportation system’s connection to, and seamless integration with, Canada’s other gateways: Asia-Pacific and Atlantic.

On July 30, 2007, the governments of Canada, Ontario and Quebec signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the development of an Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor.

This event followed the 2006 Cooperation Protocol signed by Ontario and Quebec to promote the development of the Ontario-Quebec Trade Corridor and to improve its efficiency in all modes, while the federal government was developing its National Policy Framework for Strategic Gateways and Trade Corridors.

The goal of the federal-provincial partnership is to maintain and build upon Ontario and Quebec’s world-class transportation system so that it remains a key driver of international trade and economic growth for the future.

The Continental Gateway initiative is focused on developing a sustainable, secure and efficient multimodal transportation system that keeps Canada’s economic heartland competitive, attractive for investment and essential for trade.

The Atlantic Gateway: A public-private collaboration ensuring seamless service worldwide
Canada’s Atlantic Gateway’s strategic location connects North America with global markets. An integral part of Canada’s national system of corridors and gateways, the Atlantic Gateway and Trade Corridor is an efficient, reliable and secure transportation network developed through the collaboration of the Government of Canada, the four Atlantic provinces and the private sector. It is at least one day closer to Europe than any other port on the eastern seaboard, and within a three-day drive to more than half the population of North America. With capacity in all modes and specialized niche services, it provides seamless integration with road, rail and air transportation systems that connect to all markets in North America.

The Atlantic Gateway is a safe, secure and sustainable multimodal system of specialized assets and niche capabilities; a strategically located and globally competitive transportation network moving goods to and from North America; an integrated, reliable and efficient system of airports, border crossings, rail connections, roads, and ports connecting to a continental market of 450 million consumers.

Service gains made by Canada’s railways in recent years have benefitted all participants in the process of getting goods to market by permitting the transportation of more products, more efficiently, more safely and at a cost levels that are among the lowest in the world.

Rail on the Rise: Getting Products to Tidewater as Efficiently as Possible

July 16, 2012 9:00 am
July12_page27_Courtesy RAC

Canadian rail continues to extend and expand its network to encompass the entire world. “Our railways have worked diligently with customers to improve service,” said Michael Bourque, president and CEO of the Railway Association of Canada (RAC). “They have signed service level agreements with many shippers and collaboration agreements with supply chain partners including the major ports and terminals”.

2011 was a year full of excellent progress for CN and CP (Canada’s two Class I rail carriers) and most of Canada’s 40 short line operators.

CN’s broad-based service innovation allowed it to grow the business faster than the overall economy, which translated into record annual carloadings, revenues and earnings. For the year ended December 31, 2011, CN’s rail freight revenues reached $8.1 billion, up 9.4% from $7.4 billion in 2010. Carloads were up by 3.8% in 2011 at 4.9 million, compared to 2010’s 4.7 million, while route miles (including Canada and the U.S.) decreased by 3% – from 20,600 in 2010 to 20,000 in 2011.

CN’s role as a transportation backbone of the economy makes it indispensable to many of the most important industries in North America.

CN’s role as a transportation backbone of the economy makes it indispensable to many of the most important industries in North America, transporting goods throughout the continent. CN’s sustainability practices have earned it a place on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) North America for a third straight year – the only railroad to have achieved this distinction.

CN’s Precision Railroading model, which focuses on improving every process, which affects delivery of the customers’ goods, continues to guide the railway’s performance. In 2011, CN strengthened its commitment to Operational and Service Excellence through a wide range of innovations anchored on its continuous improvement philosophy.

While CN is a leader in fast and reliable service hub-to-hub, the railway brings greater value to the entire range of interactions with its customers. CN’s “first mile/last mile” efforts include developing a sharper outside­in perspective to better monitor traffic forecasts; from moving its car-management distribution activities forward to higher and more responsive car order fulfillment. (An outside-in perspective means that companies aim to creatively deliver something of value to customers, rather than focus simply on products and sales).

CN’s relentless focus on execution supports all of its activities. The railway’s investments in capacity contribute to enhancing the fluidity of its network. “We work hard to run more efficient trains, reduce dwell time at our terminals, and improve overall network velocity,” says Claude Mongeau, CN’s president and CEO.

Improving the efficiency of the entire supply chain

The greatest opportunity to take railroading to the next level is to improve the efficiency of the entire supply chain. CN sets its sights on becoming a true supply-chain enabler, a player that can be a key part of the solution, that can help elevate logistics performance end-to-end. CN is well-positioned to use collaboration as a driver of accountability.

“We are at the forefront of groundbreaking supply chain and service level agreements throughout our North American network,” Mongeau said. “Such agreements are not based on templates or a one ­size ­fits ­all approach. Each is unique and custom-­made to reflect mutually-agreed-upon goals in a complex network business, including car supply, dwell time, and loading requirements. Customers are starting to see significant value in this collaborative framework and the positive results will continue to gain momentum.

“We are driving supply chain improvements across all segments of the business. In bulk, be it in grain, potash or coal, we are pursuing greater operating efficiencies and helping our customers find their place in global markets. In Manufacturing, be it in forest products, metals or petroleum and chemicals, we are focused on better car order fulfillment to gain market share one carload at a time. In Intermodal, we are taking advantage of supply chain agreements with every major port and terminal operator in Canada to open up new gateway markets.”

Helping coal customers serve global markets

In 2011, CN moved more than 20 million tons of coal and petroleum coke destined for offshore markets. As capacity limits in West Coast coal export terminals were constraining coal producers, CN took action – instead of waiting for capacity to expand.

Building on CN’s innovative end­to­end supply chain agreements, the railway developed an exclusive information system to better manage the flow of coal “from the mine to the ship.”

Working with customers and coal terminal operators, CN made the most of the supply chain by modifying scheduling for ships and trains, and making other changes to improve productivity and fluidity.

As a result, CN moved more than a million tons of additional coal in 2011 that may never have made it to market, a substantial contribution to help its customers grow their business.

The Port of Montreal

Gains for Grain

CN’s Scheduled Grain Service, introduced in 2010, contributed to the railway’s success in moving more than 125,000 grain cars to export terminals in Vancouver and Prince Rupert during the 2010­2011 crop year ended on July 31 – the most in 20 years. During the fall of 2011, when the crop was really starting to move, CN handled record weekly volumes of grain and achieved high levels of car-spotting reliability. Under what is a much more disciplined approach to grain service, fully 95% of grain traffic is now scheduled.

Having a pre­established day of the week for service allows customers to plan more accurately for their own business activities. It also facilitates communication. Transit times, cycles and reliability have improved as well, increasing empty­car flow and fleet capacity for grain customers. The plan allows CN to smooth the network traffic over seven days instead of the five-­day period used in the past. CN’s new grain plan is intended to help improve the supply chain for exporting grain to world markets while tightly managing costs and network balance.

As for CN’s main competitor, for the year ended December 31, 2011, CP’s rail freight revenues reached $5.2 billion, up 3.9% from almost $5 billion in 2010. Operating income was $967 million in 2011, a decrease of $149 million, or 13%, from $1.1 billion in 2010.

This decrease was primarily due to significant disruptions to train operations across the network in the first half of the year due to unusually severe winter weather and subsequent flooding; the net unfavourable impact of higher fuel costs; increased IT costs and higher crew training expenses to meet business demand and attrition.

Canadian Pacific’s current strategy is built on five core beliefs: service, safety, productivity and efficiency, people and growth. However, Hunter Harrison, CP’s newly-appointed president and CEO, will lead a multi-phase process over the next four years to deliver further improvements to CP’s performance.

As a part of its bulk portfolio, CP plays a critical role in the movement of agricultural products from key producing regions in Canada and the U.S. to markets throughout the world. The core of CP’s grain business is the movement of whole grains like wheat, canola, corn, soybeans, specialty crops and product from grain processors.

CP’s new Scheduled Grain Program has established a Transportation Hub System that delivers dedicated day-of-week service. This means better reliability, maximizing grain elevators’ capacity, improving car velocity, improving on-time performance, and creating capacity for growth.

CP serves the metallurgical coal market – used primarily in steel manufacturing – and the thermal coal market used for power generation. Within its bulk coal franchise, CP’s metallurgical business is almost entirely generated from Teck Resources’ five mines in the Elk Valley region of southeastern British Columbia.

Most of this coal volume is moved to Port Metro Vancouver for export. In 2010, CP announced a 10-year agreement with Teck that provides for a collaborative approach to the coal supply chain and investments by CP that will increase coal-handling capacity and productivity through long trains to support Teck’s volume growth.

CP continues to invest in building a truly world-class coal transportation model. Its service is based on highly efficient unit trains in continuous motion through the mine-to-port transportation cycle.

As part of CP’s merchandise portfolio, the forest product sector consists of the movement of lumber, panel, and pulp-and-paper products.

The pulp-and-paper products originate from CP-served mills in B.C., Ontario and Quebec. Mills in the interior of B.C. ship two-thirds of their production to Asia through Port Metro Vancouver and the balance moves to various North American markets. In recent years, B.C. mills have made capital investments and when the economy recovers, are positioned for long-term success.

CP’s lumber movements represent 26% of CP’s forest products business and move primarily from western-based reload facilities to markets across North America.

CP’s industrial and consumer products business encompasses a wide array of commodities grouped under energy, chemicals and plastics, mines, metals and aggregates. CP’s industrial and consumer products traffic is dispersed widely across the Canadian and U.S. network.

Energy is a key market for CP and the increase in traffic has been particularly strong as a result of a targeted growth strategy. Energy-related traffic represented about 45% of this portfolio’s revenue in 2011.

With an extensive rail network and proven expertise in moving energy, CP offers a competitive option for transporting energy-related products, including crude oil, to and from key locations in North America. CP’s successful market development activities have enabled it to successfully take advantage of access to the Bakken oil formation, the Marcellus gas formation and the Alberta oil sands cluster.

CP has a strong position for long-term participation in the energy play through the positioning of its network in the Canadian and U.S. Bakken regions (Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota), the fracture-sand-producing areas in the U.S. Midwest, and through shortlines and transload facilities that extend its reach.

The Marcellus Shale lies under the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York. The Marcellus is purported to be the largest natural gas reserve in the United States.

CP’s Northeast U.S. network, transload facilities and shortline partnerships enable it to participate in the movement of drilling and construction materials; primarily fracture sand, steel pipe and chemicals. The strength of CP’s network positions it to access key fracture sand production areas in the U.S. Midwest.

Domestic intermodal primarily involves moving manufactured consumer products in containers within North America.

The Alberta Industrial Heartland (AIH) is one of the premier chemical and energy-related processing districts in North America and is known for its concentration of oil refineries and a major oil sands upgrading facility. The location is ideal for the development of future upgraders due to its proximity to the Alberta oil sands and offers growth opportunities for shipments into and out of the region by rail.

CP’s automotive business consists of three core finished vehicle traffic segments: import vehicles that move through Port Metro Vancouver to Eastern Canadian markets; Canadian-produced vehicles that ship to the U.S. from Ontario production facilities; and U.S.-produced vehicles that travel cross-border into Canadian markets. In all of these segments, CP’s business has been built on strategic alliances with major car manufacturers and designing services to meet supply chain needs.

CP’s automotive franchise is built around strong industry transplant production companies, such as Toyota and Honda, sometimes referenced as the New Domestics. CP’s relationship and business within this segment has grown steadily. Today, the New Domestic segment represents almost 40% of automotive carloads.

CP’s intermodal portfolio involves the movement of freight through multiple modes of transportation (rail, ship, truck) and includes domestic and international services.

Domestic intermodal primarily involves moving manufactured consumer products in containers within North America. As customers’ shipping requirements evolve and their supply chains become more complex, CP believes there will be a growing need for both door-to-door and more value-added services such as Canadian Pacific Logistics Solutions (CPLS) and co-location opportunities. (Co-location refers to customers constructing warehouses adjacent to CP intermodal facilities.)

International intermodal services are the movement of marine containers to and from the ports of Vancouver, Montreal, New York and Philadelphia and into inland ports across Canada and the U.S.

CP has been able to leverage growth through its expanded Western Corridor and strong network of 14 modern intermodal terminals in Canada and the U.S.

CP’s strategy is to be proactive in ensuring infrastructure capacity and to that end, the railway has acquired land for future terminal expansions in Edmonton, Montreal and Regina.

CP also has a long-train strategy to drive increased train lengths and improve service. Long trains with Distributed Power configurations reduce lateral forces, enhance locomotive productivity and create safer operations. The long-train strategy includes targeted infrastructure enhancements and the use of proprietary train marshaling software, which maximizes the use of distributed locomotive power.

Railway investments and innovative improvements, which in the rail business means depending on a stable regulatory environment, have created an efficient and reliable asset for Canadian exporters.

Railway investments and innovative improvements, which in the rail business means depending on a stable regulatory environment, have created an efficient and reliable asset for Canadian exporters. “Hopefully, these improvements can continue” said Bruce Burrows, RAC’s vice-president of Public and Corporate Affairs.  “As more resources become accessible in Canada, modern rail will be an essential component providing access to national and international markets”.

The Harper government is further strengthening Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway advantages

In February 2012, the Government of Canada announced a $15-million contribution to the Ridley Island Road, Rail and Utility Corridor (RRUC) project at the Port of Prince Rupert, B.C. Together with contributions from the Government of British Columbia, CN Rail and the Prince Rupert Port Authority, this $90-million project will expand capacity and operations at the Port of Prince Rupert, a vital part of the world-class transportation network that makes up Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway.

“Investments in projects such as the RRUC are strengthening Canada’s competitive advantages and further positioning Canada as the gateway of choice for global supply chains between Asia and North America,” said Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway. “As a result of these strategic investments and partnerships, Canadian exports to the Asia-Pacific region have reached record levels.”

The RRUC project is a joint public- and private-sector investment that will provide road and rail access, along with utility services, to 1,000 acres of multi-user heavy industrial land that is accessible through the deep-sea terminals at the Port of Prince Rupert. The project features the development of a common user rail corridor, roads and access to port property. Investments at the Port of Prince Rupert will support Canada’s international trade with Asia.

“Building capacity at the Port of Prince Rupert is necessary for the expansion of Canada’s trade with fast-growing Asian economies,” said Don Krusel, president and chief executive officer of the Prince Rupert Port Authority. “This investment unlocks the sustainable development of port infrastructure and industrial waterfront that will benefit industries across Canada.” Canada’s West Coast ports are more than two days closer to high-growth Asian markets than any other ports in North America.

Since 2006, the Government of Canada has partnered with all four western provinces, municipalities and the private sector to announce Asia-Pacific Gateway infrastructure projects worth more than $3.5 billion, including federal contributions of over $1.4 billion.

The Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway

The Continental Gateway is a key component of Canada’s multimodal transportation system. The central location of the Continental Gateway facilitates international trade through the Port of Montreal and the domestic inputs towards foreign trade with the United States and other key trading partners. The Continental Gateway includes strategic ports, airports, intermodal facilities and border crossings as well as essential road, rail and marine infrastructure that ensures this transportation system’s connection to, and seamless integration with, Canada’s other gateways: Asia-Pacific and Atlantic.

On July 30, 2007, the governments of Canada, Ontario and Quebec signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the development of an Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor.

This event followed the 2006 Cooperation Protocol signed by Ontario and Quebec to promote the development of the Ontario-Quebec Trade Corridor and to improve its efficiency in all modes, while the federal government was developing its National Policy Framework for Strategic Gateways and Trade Corridors.

The goal of the federal-provincial partnership is to maintain and build upon Ontario and Quebec’s world-class transportation system so that it remains a key driver of international trade and economic growth for the future.

The Continental Gateway initiative is focused on developing a sustainable, secure and efficient multimodal transportation system that keeps Canada’s economic heartland competitive, attractive for investment and essential for trade.

 The Atlantic Gateway: A public-private collaboration ensuring seamless service worldwide

Canada’s Atlantic Gateway’s strategic location connects North America with global markets. An integral part of Canada’s national system of corridors and gateways, the Atlantic Gateway and Trade Corridor is an efficient, reliable and secure transportation network developed through the collaboration of the Government of Canada, the four Atlantic provinces and the private sector. It is at least one day closer to Europe than any other port on the eastern seaboard, and within a three-day drive to more than half the population of North America. With capacity in all modes and specialized niche services, it provides seamless integration with road, rail and air transportation systems that connect to all markets in North America.

The Atlantic Gateway is a safe, secure and sustainable multimodal system of specialized assets and niche capabilities; a strategically located and globally competitive transportation network moving goods to and from North America; an integrated, reliable and efficient system of airports, border crossings, rail connections, roads, and ports connecting to a continental market of 450 million consumers.

Service gains made by Canada’s railways in recent years have benefitted all participants in the process of getting goods to market by permitting the transportation of more products, more efficiently, more safely and at a cost levels that are among the lowest in the world.

Railway Series: Interview with Michael Bourque

May 17, 2012 8:39 am
Pg47_MICHAEL BOURQUE_courtesyRAC

Ottawa Life interviewed Michael Bourquethe new President & Chief Executive Officer of the Railway Association of Canada. Here is what he had to share.

Why is this a very exciting time for Canada’s rail sector?

Michael Bourque: Well, it’s clear that we’re going to continue producing a lot of goods in this country from our vast natural resources… we’re going to keep manufacturing products. Even through the recession, in the last several challenging years of the rising dollar, increasing manufacturing competition from other countries and high energy costs, we still have a great many manufacturers in this country who are globally competitive. We have vast resources: we’re exporting bitumen, potash, mining products, forest products… and the list goes on. And we’re going to keep doing that. Examples like Quebec’s Plan Nord (the Northern Plan) demonstrate that we’ll be opening up new production, creating new communities, and putting in railways so companies can ship their product to market in a competitive manner. So there’s a renaissance going on, based on the fact that the country and the economy are continuing to grow and we’re continuing to export. You can couple that with the fact that the government and the Prime Minister are signing trade agreements with many new countries and markets. The vulnerability that companies felt from the downturn in the U.S. has really caused Canadian companies to focus their exports on new customers around the world. This means that we have to be able to provide a service that will allow them to get their products to market in a very competitive way… and that’s what is happening.

So are trucks taking a back seat, so to speak, to rail?

Michael Bourque: I can’t really speak for trucking, but you will probably find that they are also struggling to keep up with demand in many cases. I’ve read that they have pretty significant driver shortages. That’s because they are busy and they are part of the supply infrastructure that allows Canadian producers to get goods to market. Trucking still plays a very important role in delivering goods. The difference between trucking and rail is that we obviously have much more capacity, and probably the most important aspect is on the sustainability side where rail pretty much moves more than 70 per cent of everything in this country for about 3 per cent of the emissions. So the sustainability story is significant. We’re able to move very large quantities of products for a lower price than trucking, while using less infrastructure that is paid for by the public, because the rail system is a privately owned, managed and operated, paid-for and even policed operation. It doesn’t require government funding to keep the rail lines open.

 What are the rail sector’s human resources challenges?

Michael Bourque: We’re going to be hiring 12 to 15 thousand people in the next four to five years, based on two trends: demographics where a number of people will be retiring from the industry, and growth in the industry. We currently have a number of programs to train new conductors, train new workers into the business and we’re working on building awareness around the rail sector as an exciting, future-oriented employer. The salaries are excellent with an average of about $80,000 a year. There are jobs from coast-to-coast and into new communities in the north. A locomotive today is far more technologically advanced than it used to be, so the training required for these positions is obviously more technologically-oriented nowadays.

What are some of the infrastructure challenges facing rail? 

Photo courtesy of RAC

Trains today are actually higher. We’re talking about intermodal, so a lot of these trains carry containers that are stacked higher and this causes demand for infrastructure changes. For example, there’s a project in Windsor-Detroit to build a new tunnel to replace one that’s about 100 years old, with a bigger and deeper tunnel that needs to accommodate these trains that are significantly higher. Again, this is just another way of taking advantage of what’s already there, making better use of existing railways. There’s a lot going on in terms of car changing, double-stacking cars.

The most significant challenge for the future is how we make sure that our infrastructure – not just for rail but for the whole supply chain – is up to the task that we’re going to require. If we’re developing new resources from mines, whether it’s in the Ring of Fire in northern Ontario or in northern Quebec or in northern Canada where there are many mining operations, or if you look at shale gas and shale oil developments, you look at the amount of demand that there is globally for potash, for specialty crops like pulse crops (a group of more than 60 different grain legume crops grown around the world – Ed.), the fact is that there is much more demand on the supply chain and this means that rail has to work really effectively with ports and terminals and trucking and shipping. Whenever you talk about the integration of these modes, you’re also talking about passenger rail, because freight trains go through cities and you want to be able to make sure that your freight trains move freely through urban areas without being held up and without holding up passengers who are shunted off the main line until the freight train passes by. The biggest challenge will be infrastructure. How do we continue to build it? How do we collaborate with all of these different actors to make sure we build the most advanced, integrated supply chain infrastructure in the world so our customers can remain globally competitive? That’s really what it’s all about. How do we work to ensure that our customers can remain globally competitive? Because if they’re not, we don’t have customers and we’re not in business.

Some years ago, the Port of Vancouver and the whole gateway there was identified as a bottleneck and everybody worked together to eliminate that bottleneck. Traffic flow was improved, so the Vancouver experience showed that this could be done, but it has to be done in a collaborative fashion because, unlike the old days when governments would finance these expansions or upgrades, governments today don’t have the money to finance large infrastructure projects. Now what is required is a commercial basis for building and collaborating to create the infrastructure that is needed for all of the different parts to work together. I think what we’re seeing is a move toward more private-sector financing and public-private partnerships. We’re a private-sector enterprise. We’re not government-owned anymore. Government doesn’t pay for the track. We own all the track. We provide leasing on the track. We upgrade the track with a significant amount of capital investment every year. We even pay taxes on our rights-of-way, so we paying for our whole infrastructure. Therefore, we look at this as a business enterprise and the only way the advanced, integrated supply chain infrastructure can be built is through collaboration and commercial agreements with private-sector financing. And of course government will be at the table as one of the stakeholders, but it will increasingly become a commercial enterprise because governments simply don’t have the capital to invest in these projects.

How did Canada achieve the impressive feat of having one of the safest and most productive railways in the world?

Michael Bourque: It really comes down to innovation in the way that we work with customers, creating longer, higher, quicker cars. Safety inspections are done while freight trains are moving at a very slow pace. You can’t afford to have somebody walking around these very long freight trains; instead, the inspector monitors the train while it’s moving. The advantage is that the inspector will hear things and notice things that he wouldn’t necessarily detect if the train was at a standstill. And yet the net result is that the train is still moving and you’re increasing your efficiency. It’s really a story of innovation and persistence. I like to think that in this country, because of the seasonal and geographical challenges we face, that essentially it forces us to be smarter than everybody else!

Rail Trends: The Economic Spin-Offs Benefit all Canadians

May 16, 2012 8:39 am
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Canada’s rail sector has bounced back from the 2009 global economic downturn and is posting solid volume growth. The industry continues to invest significantly in increased capacity and efficiencies. The findings are outlined in Rail Trends 2011, an annual compendium of statistics about rail sector performance published by the Railway Association of Canada (RAC).

The rail mode moves over 70 million people and more than 70 per cent of all surface goods every year, relieving road congestion and helping to limit harmful emissions with only 3 per cent of transportation sector GHGs coming from (attributable to) rail. Rail is growing, innovative, safe and secure and provides access to national and international markets. Rail facilitates more than $75 billion in trade per year.

Canadian rail employs 32,000 people, pays $2.5 billion in wages, and creates 50,000 indirect rail supplier jobs.

Unlike other modes, rail builds and maintains its entire infrastructure and invests about 20 per cent of revenue (on average, every year) back into its network to improve transit time for customers. Rail is the most capital-intensive industry in Canada.

About RAC

The rail mode moves over 70 million people and more than 70 per cent of all surface goods every year.

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) is an authority on issues concerning Canadian rail and the trusted body government consults in establishing regulations and standards. Headquartered in Ottawa, RAC counts among its members Class 1 freight railways, as well as passenger, short line and regional railways; tourist, commuter and intercity rail lines; and more than 60 associate member suppliers and partners. RAC’s members operate about 60,000 km of main line track.

This is an exciting time for the rail sector. The rail mode is enjoying a rediscovery, a renaissance. Historically, rail received considerable public subsidy. Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was a progressive increase in awareness of the need to introduce more market forces in order to encourage self-sufficiency, competitiveness and efficiency. This awareness has been reflected in public policy changes to help facilitate market mechanisms that are conducive to private sector investment and to free management in order to establish a highly efficient, privately funded network stretching across North America.

A combination of changes in regulations, such as the National Transportation Act (1987) and Canada Transportation Act (1996), resulted in the cancellation of explicit transportation subsidies, and the privatization of CN Railway (1995). These changes, coupled with the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), opened the way for rail to take its rightful place as the backbone of Canada’s transportation network. There is a new strategic approach. The trunk line component, formerly concentrated on an east-west axis, has now become continental, with a strong and vibrant north-south focus. This framework is successfully fed by a dynamic short line and regional railway component that is an entrepreneurial, flexible, well-managed and customer-focused sector. This symbiosis has created the best rail system in North America, according to RAC.

Rail in this country has vigorously responded to competitive challenges. Canada has some of the most successful railways in the world – critical to the competitiveness of our industrial sector and, by extension, to the standard of living of all Canadians.

Short Lines

A reinvigorated rail mode is constantly innovating.

Short line and regional railways represent those which “feed into and take away from” high-volume, trunk-line railways. Between 1996 and 1999, CN and CPR transferred more than 8,500 km of rail line to short line operators – over 80 per cent of the total identified for discontinuance over that period.

Short lines play a fundamental role in the industry as they provide a direct link to the Class 1 networks for shippers on branch lines. The traffic is collected by the short lines and generally interchanged with its main line partners who, on average, move the long-haul, high-volume traffic five times further to destination. They strive, in conjunction with their Class 1 partners, to provide seamless transportation service from points of origin to destination. Short lines originated 23 per cent of the carloads in 2010.

The success story is the excellent ‘fit’ between the long-haul, high-efficiency Class 1s and the local customer service and logistics capabilities of the short lines.

Innovation

A reinvigorated rail mode is constantly innovating. What are the rail sector’s innovation priorities?

According to Bruce R. Burrows, Vice-president, Public and Corporate Affairs at the RAC, one of the areas the rail sector is quite focused on is operating longer trains. “There’s a tremendous benefit from a safety perspective, an energy consumption perspective and a cost perspective, because the more goods we can handle with a given amount of power, the less cost that will ultimately be in terms of pricing to customers. This is more complicated than it sounds to be able to do it technically, but we’ve developed distributed power units through the length of the train. This has allowed us to run trains that are 30 per cent longer, if not more. We have found distributive power (or DP) trains put far less stress on track curves, for example, which allows the railways to extend the life of rail, ties and car wheels and to lower fuel consumption. This also means enhanced carrying capacity and customer service, while improving safety.

“Another area of innovation is better withstanding cold and erratic weather,” Burrows adds. “We’re doing a lot of research right now in cooperation with the National Research Council and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, looking at ways to better manage and handle varying weather conditions which could lead to avalanches or mudslides that wipe out operations for periods of time. It’s very disruptive to service and operations. We have also had success with the DP technology in maintaining proper brake pressure through a long train in cold temperatures; in the past, we have had to run shorter trains during the winter. Furthermore, new ‘quick start’ technology automatically shuts off the main diesel engine and allows it to remain warm in the wintertime when sitting in rail yards waiting for its next assignment. This is good for the environment because locomotives can be easily restarted and don’t have to be kept idling in cold weather, further reducing fuel consumption and emissions.”

A More Integrated Transport System

Canadian rail is building on its recent gains to make an important contribution to Canada’s future prosperity by assisting governments in achieving their public policy objectives.

How integrated is Canada’s intermodal transport system at the present time – and where does rail fit in?

“Rail is increasingly working on a very cooperative basis with the trucking sector,” Burrows says. “We have a very integrated port/rail network with Asian outsourcing and the vast increase in the number of containers moving across the Pacific Ocean into Canada to places like Vancouver and Prince Rupert, B.C., and there’s a lot of activity going in and out of these ports. The rail industry is now much more import-oriented and export-oriented. A lot of the domestic logistics patterns have changed, with many small regional manufacturing facilities being closed and replaced by big manufacturing clusters close to intermodal hubs for final delivery to the customer on a longer-haul basis. Chronic road congestion is pushing a lot of business back to the rail mode. So we have to be much more innovative in terms of the service we offer to our customers. And this is happening. We’re seeing a new golden age for Canadian rail!”

Canadian rail is building on its recent gains to make an important contribution to Canada’s future prosperity by assisting governments in achieving their public policy objectives. Rail has identified policy areas where it can assist: economic competitiveness, integration of the multi-modal transportation system, land-use planning, highway and urban congestion, the environment and public safety. The return of inner-city rail service to urban Canada will be explored in a later installment in this series.

Rail: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

March 28, 2012 6:19 pm
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Rail Series: By Claire Tremblay and Harvey Chartrand

Nothing quite defines pioneering Canada as its railways. Think rail and the image of thousands of miles of steel stretching the length of our great country comes to mind. Ottawa Life begins a look at the railway industry with an overview of the history of rail in Canada and, specifically, a look back at a time when Ottawa had a sophisticated downtown rail service and streetcar network.

The Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) line completed in 1885 – linking eastern Canada and British Columbia – was an engineering marvel of its time. During the first half of the 20th century, rail was the nation’s spine, along which cities, industry and agriculture were built, grew and continue to thrive to this day. CPR’s logo of the hard-working beaver was a symbol of Canadian industriousness.

Canada would not be the prosperous country it is today without its rail system.

Rail first made its appearance in Canada in 1836 with the opening of the Champlain and St. Lawrence Railroad outside Montreal. Four years later came the Albion Railway in Stellarton, N.S. Both rail lines served a commercial purpose. The Montreal rail link connected traffic on the St. Lawrence and Saint-Jean rivers; the Nova Scotia line linked coal mines to a seaport.

Exterior view of the G.T.R. Station (Ottawa Union Station). ©Library and Archives Canada

However, it wasn’t until the 1880s and the creation of the CPR that rail became prominent in Canada. British Columbia demanded a transport link to connect it to eastern Canada as a condition of joining the Canadian Confederation in 1871. In response, the Conservative government of Sir John A. Macdonald announced the creation of the CPR and construction of a 3,000-mile east-west rail link. Nothing so epic had been built before and it was promptly declared to be an impossible venture by Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition. Yet the creation of the CPR had a domino effect. It might have started off being about B.C., but the CPR was really all about forging a nation.

Today, the CPR, formerly also known as CP Rail, is headquartered in Calgary and consists of 14,000 miles of track across Canada and into the United States. The rail network stretches from Montreal to Vancouver and north into Edmonton; it also serves major cities in the US including Minneapolis, Chicago and New York City.

Canadian National Railways (CNR) was created in June 1919, taking over several railways that had gone bankrupt and fallen into federal government hands, along with railways already owned by the government. The railway was referred to as Canadian National Railways (CNR) until 1960, when it was renamed Canadian National/Canadien National (CN). In 1995, the federal government privatized CN.

Today, CN owns about 20,400 miles of track in eight provinces, as well as a 70-mile stretch of track into the Northwest Territories to Hay River on the south shore of Great Slave Lake; it is the northernmost rail line anywhere within the North American Rail Network, as far north as Anchorage, Alaska. Following CN’s purchase of Illinois Central and a number of smaller US railways, it also has extensive trackage in the central US along the Mississippi River Valley from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. CN is headquartered in Montreal.

And while some might think railway’s golden days are over, as road transportation has taken precedence, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the coming decades may prove to be a platinum era for rail – one even more powerful than the first golden age. Global warming and the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions make rail an attractive alternative mode of transport for passengers and freight. Rail also facilitates cross-border transportation and exports between Canada and the United States. Special technology permits rail freight cars and containers to be quickly X-rayed and waved through U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This compares favorably to the much longer customs-clearing process involved in screening goods hauled by truck into the U.S.

Entrance to Union Station looking north from Laurier Bridge Ottawa, Ontario. ©Library and Archives Canada

Ottawa used to be a railway town. Downtown was criss-crossed by streetcar tracks and passenger and freight rail lines. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade at 125 Sussex Drive (aka the Lester B. Pearson Building) was once the site of a busy rail freight yard. You can still see the supports of the old Bytown and Prescott Railway Bridge (from Stanley Park in New Edinburgh to Bordeleau Park along King Edward Avenue) on which trains once ran in and out of the yards. Did you know that the bicycle path that cuts through Rockcliffe Park was once a streetcar line? The Queensway, the Vanier Parkway, the Ottawa River Parkway, Colonel By Drive (from Echo Drive to Besserer Street) – all were once rights-of-way for rail lines.

At one time, a railway track ran across the center of the Alexandra Interprovincial Bridge, crossing old Hull on a long-vanished trestle that led to a commuter rail line linking Wakefield to downtown Ottawa. Only traces of the line remain in Gatineau today; most of it was ripped up to make way for linear parks and bicycle paths. The CPR right-of-way north of Sappers Bridge was shared with the Hull Electric Railway, which ran on either side of the CPR line. Before 1912, when the Union Station at Confederation Square was built, the station for the railcars was under the Dufferin Bridge. After the Chateau Laurier opened, the tracks north of Dufferin Bridge were enclosed under a terrace and passenger platforms were provided. The Hull Electric had a pair of crossovers to the CPR track, beside the Chateau Laurier. There was also a turning loop, in a tunnel under the new Plaza Bridge built in 1912 to replace the Dufferin and Sappers Bridges.

Lebreton Flats was once the site of Ottawa’s first railway station: the Canada Central Union Station was opened in May 1881 to handle Canada Central Railway and Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway trains. The station was located at Broad Street at the west end of Ottawa Street (vestiges of these now crumbling thoroughfares can still be seen in Lebreton Flats). The architecture of the station and freight sheds is the typical Victorian style with roof-end cross-bracing and carved rooftop finials. The Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Occidental Railway reached Broad Street via the Prince of Wales Bridge on December 3, 1880. This interprovincial rail bridge has somehow survived, although it is now disused and in dire need of an upgrade. Efforts to integrate the old bridge into an interprovincial light rail transit system have failed repeatedly.

Canada would not be the prosperous country it is today without its rail system.

The Canadian Pacific roundhouse at Ottawa East was constructed in late 1899. The CPR erected a roundhouse for steam engines at Hurdman’s Bridge across the Rideau River, near the present-day Queensway Bridge. The roundhouse was located between the CPR and the Canadian Atlantic Railway bridges and had four tracks leading into it.

The Ottawa and New York Railway opened a line to Ottawa on July 29, 1898, ending at Hurdman Station. A huge railroad yard occupied land from the south end of the University of Ottawa campus (where Colonel By Hall and the Sports Complex were later built) to the Ottawa Gas Works on Lees Avenue, where a coal gasification plant operated for many years.

In 1911, the CPR’s 21-stall Ottawa West roundhouse was built in Hintonburg (near the present-day Tom Brown Arena). The spectacular roundhouse was demolished in the early sixties when Lebreton Flats (a thriving working class district) was flattened. The CPR’s Ottawa West roundhouse had walls made of reinforced concrete construction, as were the columns and beams. The joists, on the other hand, were of white pine and B.C. fir. The site of the old roundhouse is now covered over by the Transitway near Bayview Station.

One of the least-remembered places in Ottawa is “Little Sussex Street”, which was located right behind Union Station on what is now the Colonel By Drive extension as it approaches Rideau Street. Little Sussex Street catered to rail passengers and employees out for a good time; it was very close to two legendary taverns in the Grand Hotel and the old Albion Hotel.

The Grand Trunk Railway (GTR) purchased the Canadian Atlantic Railway in 1904. Through its Ottawa Terminals Railway subsidiary, the GTR rebuilt the passenger and freight trackage at the Central Depot in 1908-1909, and began construction of a new station on the site of the Canada Atlantic Central Depot at Rideau Street and the Canal. It was intended as a Union Station, to unify the various railway termini on the model adopted for the recently-built Washington, D.C., Union Station. At this time, few other monumental stations existed in North America.

A classical revival structure was designed by the architect Bradford Lee Gilbert. However, before the station was built, the General Manager of the Grand Trunk, Charles Melville Hays, replaced Gilbert with the architects Ross and MacFarlane. The redesigned station had plain, unfluted columns on the main building, but elaborate arched windows on a Roman model in the waiting room section. A small dome with a cylindrical beacon on top surmounted the main structure.

The coming decades may prove to be a platinum era for rail, one even more powerful than the first golden age.

The largest room in the station was the full-height waiting room, with arched coffered ceiling, eight large semicircular windows, and eight Corinthian columns, reminiscent of the great Roman baths. Around it were washrooms, lunchroom, ticket offices and other facilities. Today the waiting room sits in magnificent decaying isolation, off-limits to the general public.

Behind the waiting room was a three-storey office building, used mainly for railway operations, and the full-width concourse for passenger circulation, with doors leading to all platforms. The concourse also had a newsstand and the side entrance to the taxi stand and car pickup area. Along the east side of the shed was the baggage room, as well as railway express offices with truck loading bays, postal room and steam plant. The baggage room adjoined the south side of the concourse near the Besserer Street ground-level entrance, convenient to the taxi stand. Much of this was bulldozed in the early 1980s to make way for the Rideau Centre mall and the Ottawa Congress Centre.

The train shed had a complex roof covering of concrete slabs, glass skylights, smoke ducts over the tracks, and air vents between the tracks. The concourse also had large skylights in the roof.

When Union Station opened on June 1, 1912, the CPR declined to use it for all but its Montreal direct-line trains and remained at Broad Street. The Canadian Northern Railway also did not use the station, but remained at Hurdman.

As most other railways did not use the station, it was named “Grand Trunk Central Station”. The name appeared in large Roman letters above the Rideau Street entrance and along the top of the wall on the Rideau Canal side. There was also a freight yard to the east, ending at Besserer Street, but it had no connection with the passenger tracks.

A 1911 drawing of the train shed cross-section shows the canal-side track outside the original concrete wall of the train shed. It was labelled “CPR Transcontinental Through Track” and implies that the station really was built by the GTR with the intention or understanding that the CPR transcontinental trains would bypass it.

When in January 1920, CPR decided to close Broad Street Station and move to Union Station, the train shed wall was taken down and moved to the canal edge. The relocated wall of the shed did not rest on the canal wall but was supported on pilings set into the canal itself. The original architects evidently had no intention to lay out Track 1 with sufficient clearance for it to be inside the shed; otherwise, they would have allowed sufficient clearance to add the wall.

The Chateau Laurier was built as the Grand Trunk's station hotel, and opened the same day as the station. Photo by: Katarina Kuruc

On July 31, 1966, Union Station closed and the railway tracks were removed. Under the John B. Parkin Associates Plan for the redevelopment of Confederation Square, the station was to be demolished! However, Union Station was reprieved to become the Centennial Centre, containing exhibitions open to the public during Canada’s centennial year of 1967. The station buildings were then remodelled to become the Government Conference Centre. The concourse was divided into smaller rooms, but the waiting room became the main conference hall.

The Chateau Laurier was built as the Grand Trunk’s station hotel, and opened the same day as the station. There was no ceremony for either opening, as the Grand Trunk’s chairman, Charles Melville Hays, had died in the sinking of the Titanic while travelling to Canada for the opening. The hotel basement was connected by a pedestrian tunnel to the station’s waiting room, emerging between the two flights of the grand staircase from the Rideau Street entrance, and a steam tunnel which connected the hotel to the shared steam plant.

On December 2, 1909, the GTR was authorized to construct a branch line from its track south of Sapper’s/Plaza Bridge thence northerly under the bridge, crossing CPR and the Hull Electric Railway, and into the site of the Chateau Laurier Hotel. This siding was used to bring in materials for the construction of the hotel. On June 28, 1911, a plan was approved showing a terrace or covering over the tracks of the CPR and Hull Electric, immediately adjacent to the Chateau Laurier. The terrace was rebuilt in 1960.

Ottawa’s great railway era seems to have ended when the National Capital Commission accepted the Greber Report recommendations to remove all traces of rail from downtown Ottawa, capitulating to the French urban planner’s whims. Ottawa was a much more atmospheric city back in those days. Much of that ambience had to do with the dynamic and bustling presence of rail. As Ottawa looks at new light rail transit, could we be returning to that golden age? Time will tell.

Sources – Wikipedia; The Railways of Ottawa: Colin Churcher’s Railway Pages

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