Canadian Railways Celebrate Earth Day

Secure, dedicated track make railways Canada's sustainable transportation leaders

OTTAWA, April 22 /CNW/ - In honour of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day - a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment - the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) is spotlighting the work being done by its members to make rail the sustainable transportation mode of choice in Canada.

"Concerns for the environment and higher fuel costs are shifting transportation away from road and back toward rail," said Cliff Mackay, President and CEO of the RAC. "While rail carried 75% of overland freight and 72 million passengers last year, a freight rail right-of-way uses 66 per cent less land than a lane of highway and is responsible for only 3 percent of transportation sector-related GHG emissions and emits 33 percent less particulate matter, far less than any other mode of land transportation."

From country building steam engines that united us from coast-to-coast more than a century ago, railways are again moving Canada forward into a new century, this time with environmentally sustainable transportation that is miles in front of other modes of ground transportation. From the acquisition of new freshly-manufactured locomotives meeting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions standard to testing a new generation of fuel saving, ultra-low emissions GenSet locomotives as part of Transport Canada's ecoFREIGHT Program, Canada's railways are making innovative strides that are helping Canadians breathe a little easier.

A total of 60 new high-horsepower locomotives meeting EPA standards were added in 2008 with factory-fitted Automatic Engine Stop-Start (AESS) systems to minimize idling. The overall fuel consumed by railway operations in Canada decreased 2.4 percent from 2007 levels. Overall, Canada's freight railways have reduced their GHG emissions on a 1,000 RTK basis 24.6 per cent since 1990.

Other innovative initiatives to reduce fuel consumption and, hence, emissions included acquisition of additional higher-capacity freight cars and lower-weight aluminium gondola units. Further, operational fluidity improvements were implemented which included infrastructure upgrades, wheel-flange lubrication, top-of-rail friction control and the benefits of co-production arrangements between the Class 1 freight railways, CN and CP, for shared operation on mainline segments. In 2008, ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel was standardized on VIA Rail Canada and commuter operations.

"Continued investment in these initiatives provides an environmentally responsible alternative to the pervasive and rapidly increasing problems of pollution, highway overcrowding, land use, and massive highway infrastructure costs," Mackay concluded, "and position rail for continued leadership when it comes to green transportation."

Rail corridors are an important alternative to highways; they already exist, are integrated into communities, and can handle the projected growth in traffic. To learn more about Canadian rail's environmental story, please visit

About the Railway Association of Canada

The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) represents some 50 core freight, tourist, commuter, and intercity Canadian railways, playing a major role in promoting the safety, viability, and growth of the railway industry within Canada. In addition to this core membership, the RAC has an Associate Membership open to all railway suppliers and industrial railway operators. Find out more at:

SOURCE Railway Association of Canada

For further information: For further information: Paul Goyette, The Railway Association of Canada, (613) 564-8097

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