Canada’s rail sector currently provides a low-carbon means of transporting goods and people throughout the country. While the sector moves 44% of all freight in Canada, it is responsible for only 4% of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. This being the case, rail stakeholders know that more can and must be done if rail is to contribute to Canada’s net-zero targets.
The Rail Pathways Initiative is being led through a partnership between Pollution Probe and The Delphi Group, with support from the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) and Transport Canada. Its Steering Committee actively contributes to and reviews Initiative outputs and is comprised of senior experts from Canada’s Class 1 railways, the RAC, and federal government departments responsible for rail-related policies and regulations.
The purpose of Phase 1 of the Rail Pathways Initiative was to develop a landscape document which delivers on the following objectives:
- Develop a common understanding of the current state of rail sector decarbonization in Canada, which can be used as a tool for collaboration between industry and government;
- Create a repository of current federal, provincial and territorial GHG reduction legislative instruments and activities impacting the rail sector; and
- Contribute to next-phase work on a roadmap to achieving future GHG reductions in Canada’s rail sector.
To help with the identification of gaps and to illustrate areas of strength with regard to rail decarbonization activities, the document categorizes GHG reduction mechanisms into five areas: fuel efficiency, alternative fuels, alternative propulsion, infrastructure and modal shift. Currently available and emerging technologies within these categories are touched upon in this document, although an assessment of the GHG reduction potential and barriers to the implementation of various technologies and practices in a Canadian context will be conducted in Phase 2 of the Pathways Initiative (to be completed in 2022).
Phase 2 of the Rail Pathways Initiative will use this landscape document to inform the development of a roadmap towards deeper GHG reductions in the years and decades ahead.