Short lines benefit economy and environment
June 11, 2008
Source: Railway Association of Canada
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Ottawa - A new study for the Railway Association of Canada and the
Ministry of Transport for Ontario says short line railways contribute up
to $1.2 billion in economic and social benefits to Ontario’s economy.
"Short lines are an integral part of Ontario's transportation network
and play a key role in economic development and environmental
sustainability. In order to intensify trade and to stimulate economic
growth, Ontario must have the capacity to transport goods safely,
effectively and efficiently. The railway network plays a key role in
providing this service," said RAC President and CEO Cliff Mackay. The
cost of the study was shared by the province and the railways.
Approximately 400 employees work for the shortline railways in Ontario.
They earn $20 million in wages annually and contribute $7 million in
federal and provincial taxes. The shortlines support local industries
whose total revenue is estimated at $4 billion annually. “That
illustrates the dynamic relationship between transportation and
industrial production,” said Mr. Mackay.
“Demand for rail services will increase as trade with Asian-Pacific
markets continues to flourish,” he says. “We improved our rail freight
emission figures in the province significantly, and we appreciate the
province’s on-going support.”
Smog-forming oxides of nitrogen are down more than 28 per cent, carbon
monoxide is down 50 per cent and CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases are
down some 23 per cent since 1990. Rail carries 64 per cent of surface
tonne-kilometres of freight and 66 million passengers but only produces
three per cent of transport’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Canadian freight railways now move 169 revenue tonne-kilometres of
freight for each litre of fuel they consume, an improvement of some 30
per cent. Short lines in Canada now originate more than one million
carloads of traffic, more than double the volume of a decade ago.
An opinion poll in January 2007 found that 26 per cent of Canadians said
that the environment was their top issue, up from just four per cent in
2005. Rail has worked hard to get its own house in order, and, with the
right public policies, will do even more, said Mr. Mackay.
Rail currently transports more than 100 miles of train a day cross
border between Canada and the U.S. and the federal government recently
doubled the Capital Cost Allowances rate for new and rebuilt electric
locomotives from 15 to 30 per cent. The recent federal budget also had
good news for rail passengers and commuters by establishing a new $500
million transit trust fund which will further improve passenger rail
Major Canadian railways will invest almost $2.5 billion dollars this
year in order to maintain their infrastructure and ensure that they can
move their goods in a safe and cost effective manner. “A number of short
lines have partnered with the federal government and other provinces to
upgrade their infrastructure. We’re hopeful that we can do the same in
Ontario in the near future,” said Mr. Mackay.
VIA is investing almost $700 million to upgrade locomotives, passenger
cars and infrastructure improvements to add new services and increase
capacity. The work will free up one rebuilt power unit from the three
now required in western service for additional train services planned in
the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. The study was carried out by CANARAIL
consultants of Montreal.