CN investing $445 million in British Columbia

CN announced on Monday that, as part of its strategic investments to support growing demand and enable supply chains, it plans to invest approximately $445 million across British Columbia in 2020.

The investments will include expansion projects that will add track in yards to handle growing traffic, new sidings as well as continued investments in multi-year initiatives to increase capacity at the Port of Vancouver and at the Port of Prince Rupert in collaboration with the Government of Canada, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, and the Prince Rupert Port Authority. The maintenance program will focus on the replacement of rail and ties and maintenance work on level crossings, culverts, signal systems and other track infrastructure.

James Thompson, Vice-President, Western Region at CN, said: “We take our essential role in the North American economy seriously and these investments in British Columbia are a key part of our strategy to support growth. The Company remains committed to help enable supply chains that fuel British Columbia’s growth as we are a critical part of getting everyday goods to markets and consumers. Safety is a core value at CN and by investing in the maintenance and expansion of our track and capacity, we are providing customers with a safe and reliable solution at a time when fluid supply chains are more critical than ever.”
Marc Garneau, federal Minister of Transport, said: “Remaining committed to supporting Canadian businesses, our government continues to invest in Canada’s economy to encourage economic growth. We are pleased to see companies such as CN do their share by investing in improving safety, growing its capacity and enabling trade through a safe and reliable rail network. Our government has invested to encourage the fluidity of the Western Canadian trade gateway in British Columbia and CN is a key partner in those infrastructure expansions. These investments will continue to enable and support supply chains that make Canada a reliable international trading partner.”

Michelle Mungall, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness, added: “CN is a transportation lifeline for people and businesses throughout B.C. This investment is great news for the 2,400 CN employees in B.C., their families, and the many more who will indirectly benefit from these important upgrades. CN is a key part of the post-COVID-19 economy where the export of B.C.-made goods will be so crucial.”

Claire Trevena, B.C.’s Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, noted: “A sound railway network is critical to our local, provincial and national economies. Our government appreciates CN’s contribution and dedication to strengthen our supply chain, especially as we begin to safely restart the economy during COVID-19. Investments like this will ensure that we remain well positioned to support trade so British Columbians and Canadians have access to the products they need in their daily lives.”

CN says its investments will create greater capacity, which supports reductions in its customer’s transportation supply chain GHG emissions, by encouraging the use of rail for long haul needs. This reduces emissions, traffic congestion, accidents and burdens on public transportation infrastructure as one freight train can replace over 300 trucks from roads. Moving freight by rail instead of truck reduces GHG emissions by 75%. CN will continue to deploy important safety enhancing technologies across its network, such as the Autonomous Track Inspection Program, Distributed Air Cars and Automated Inspection Portals.

Planned expansion projects include:

  • Construction of about 3.5 miles of double track between Vancouver and Edmonton, near Glen Valley.
  • Building new sidings on the Edmonton to Prince Rupert corridor to increase capacity for growing demand.
  • Continued investments to continue multi-year infrastructure projects that will increase capacity at the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert in collaboration with the Government of Canada, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and the Prince Rupert Port Authority.    

Maintenance program highlights include:

  • Replacement of more than 100 miles of rail
  • Installation of over 209,000 new railroad ties
  • Installation of over 46,000 concrete ties
  • Rebuilds of 22 road crossing surfaces
  • Maintenance work on bridges, culverts, signal systems, and other track infrastructure

British Columbia in numbers:

  • Capital investments: More than $ 1.3 billion in the last five years
  • Employees: approximately 2,465
  • Railroad route miles operated: 2,814
  • Community partnerships: $870,000 in 2019
  • Local spending: $535 million in 2019
  • Cash taxes paid: $192 million in 2019

CN notes that the bustling ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert are dynamic gateways to international trade, offering shorter transit times to Asia. At the Port of Vancouver, CN has coal, grain and intermodal terminals. In the Vancouver area, CN has two distribution centres for forest products, two for metals, three for automotive products, and a CN CargoFlo bulk handling centre. In Prince George, CN has an intermodal terminal and another CargoFlo bulk handling facility in Ashcroft. Vancouver is home to a major rail classification yard.


  1. I don’t see any ‘investment’ here to stop the accelerated erosion of the Fraser River caused mainly by deregulated higher-than-normal cargo weights of trains (which began in 2014) right along the route.
    Fish routes have been negatively impacted and people’s homes keep vibrating down the slope with each passing 365 day a year overweighted train, often carrying coal.
    In fact, I don’t see any investment here at all to reduce vibration from increasingly faster and overweighted deregulated operations. This has been done in Germany, China, Russia and Australia.
    Where is the investment to stop the loss of CN workers lives where rates have multiplied since the deregulation that started in 2014? Nothing for this either.

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