If you're considering moving near a rail line or yard, or you already live nearby, there are a few important questions you might want answered.
To avoid surprises before buying a home you should find out more about what CP transports, how often trains run and how we use our property. Although we do our best to be a reasonable neighbour, you need to know what to expect from CP's round-the-clock railway operation.
Check out the Railway Association of Canada's online map to see which railways operate in your area.
This map also has contact information for other Canadian railways.
When CP first began its operations, Canada was relatively unpopulated. While much has changed in the 130 years since the start of CP's operations, our commitment to operating safely and working closely with communities and residents remains a core value.
Today, while we fully appreciate the needs of growing cities, it is important to remember that many communities across Canada have grown-up and prospered along the railroad. That interface – between communities and CP – has become an important component of what we do on any given day.
CP plays an integral role in moving North America's economy and takes great pride in safely delivering to North Americans everything they need – from food, to cars, to energy and fuel. A strong, safe and efficient rail system is essential for Canada and the U.S. to remain globally competitive.
If a community would like to conduct a study into moving certain rail lines out of their city, CP may participate. However, relocation of rail lines and yards is a complex and serious issue which would involve CP, local and national customers, regulators, local community organizations and all levels of government. An extensive review would need to take place to determine the impact to customer service and the full cost to all stakeholders, which will be significant.
As we say in the railway, any time is train time.
Freight trains do not run on a set schedule like passenger trains do -- CP trains operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. On some rail lines you may see only one or two trains a week, while busy corridors can have more than 30 trains a day. We pride ourselves on being available at all times for our customers so when their demands change, we change with them.
If you choose to live near one of our rail lines, you will see the variability of our schedule. Some trains will run through communities without stopping while others may make frequent stops so our crew can pick up and drop off freight cars.
Extra trains or 'unit trains' (full trainloads of one commodity) often handle temporary increases in volumes and can run any time of day. If the demand for a commodity goes up you can expect additional trains to handle the volume, if demand decreases we run fewer trains.
Community Connect team can help answer your questions regarding CP train traffic - all you need to supply is your address. If you are thinking of buying a home next to a rail line this is a great place to start and may help you make your decision a little easier. When you are provided with a frequency, it is important to remember the number given is merely a snapshot in time – traffic can either increase or decrease at any time.
CP trains carry a wide variety of goods, from ice cream and cereal to auto parts, lumber, grain and coal. In fact, most of the items you see in stores have at some point been moved by rail.
Our trains can also carry regulated materials - hazardous goods which require precise, skilled handling - although this makes up only a small portion of our overall freight movements.
You may notice some trains appear to consist of only one type of rail car while others are a colourful assortment of car types. Depending on where a train originates and its final destination, as well as the supply of a specific commodity, it may make sense to have an entire train dedicated to moving one good. Grain is a good example of this.
CP does our best to be a reasonable neighbour, but if you live near the railway you must expect to see and hear a certain amount of activity from our operations. Unlike a highway or busy road, the track is generally a very quiet place. When trains pass, you will hear the locomotives followed by the movement of freight cars and wheels making contact with the rails. When trains stop or start, you will hear the sound of brakes being applied or air under pressure passing through brake pipes on each car. You may also hear cars bumping together when slowing, or the slack being taken up when a train accelerates.
You will likely hear additional noises if you live near a rail yard, rail siding (a shorter, temporary line which runs parallel to our main lines) or terminal. In these areas, trains may stop for extended periods with their engines idling while our crews wait for another train to pass or to be given permission to pull out of the yard. Some terminals are served by trucks, trains and mobile equipment for moving and stacking containers, all of which operate around the clock and generate noise.
Train whistles are the most important public safety mechanism available to our engineers. Whistles are purposely loud so they catch the attention of those nearby and alert people a train is coming.
Because whistles are so critical in keeping you and us safe, there are specific requirements for its use. In Canada, trains are required under the Railway Safety Act of 1988 to whistle at all public crossings - those areas along our track where vehicles and pedestrians cross. Trains must begin sounding its whistle a quarter mile from the crossing and repeat whistling until the train is on the crossing. Our crews also sound the whistle if their view is restricted or they perceive a danger, such as someone walking on the track.
These rules apply 24 hours a day and whistles must be sounded even if a crossing has lights, bells and crossing gates. The only exception to these whistling regulations are crossings where federally approved whistle prohibitions have been put in place.
If you would like to apply for a Quiet Zone in your community, please visit the websites below.
In the US:
Just as you take care of the things you own, such as your home and yard, CP does the same for our property. We take special care in maintaining our right-of-way - the area on both sides of our tracks - and work hard to quickly address any concerns regarding its appearance. We forward complaints or concerns to track maintenance supervisors or the CP Police Service as the situation warrants.
In most areas, the right-of-way extends approximately 50 feet from the center of the track on both sides.
Contact our Community Connect team.