Home   In Your Community   Living near the railway

Living near the railway 

Canadian Pacific is a crucial link in a continental transportation network. Our timely, competitive rail service moves goods to market and delivers the products we use in our homes every day. CP must operate around the clock in order to meet these customer requirements and remain competitive.

If you're considering moving near a rail line or yard, we recommend you ask a few important questions before buying. By finding out more about what Canadian Pacific transports, how often trains run and how we use our property, potential homebuyers can avoid surprises. 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.

Frequency & schedule

Freight trains do not run on a set schedule like passenger trains do -- trains operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  They can run at any time, depending on what customers need and changes in business cycles. A train schedule may be based on the requirements of a port 2,000 miles away. Or it may be based on the needs of a customer who relies on just-in-time delivery of goods to a factory. Other schedules may be flexible because the crew has to stop many times to pick up and drop off freight cars.

On some branch lines you may see only one or two trains a week, while busy mainline corridors can have more than 30 trains a day. 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, the opposite if demand decreases.

Our Community Connect team can help answer your questions regarding CP train traffic - all that 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 to make your decision a little easier. It is important to remember that this number can change at any time – traffic can either increase or decrease, the number given is merely a snapshot in time.

Rail operations

Canadian Pacific does its best to be a reasonable neighbour, but people living near the railway must expect to see and hear a certain amount of activity from its operations. Unlike a highway or busy road, the track is generally a very quiet place. When a train passes, you will hear the locomotives followed by the movement of freight cars and wheels making contact with the rails as the train passes. If it stops or starts, you may 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, siding or terminal. In these areas, trains may stand for extended periods with their engines idling, as train crews wait for a train to pass or permission to pull out of the yard. Intermodal terminals are served by trucks, trains and mobile equipment for moving and stacking containers; all of which operate around the clock.


In Canada, trains are required under the Railway Safety Act of 1988 to whistle at all public crossings. The train must begin sounding its whistle a quarter mile from the crossing and repeat it until the train is on the crossing. Train crews will 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 are intended to alert motorists and pedestrians of the approaching train. Whistles must be sounded even if the crossing has lights, bells and crossing arms. The only exception to the whistling regulations are crossings where federally approved whistle prohibitions have been put in place.


Canadian Pacific is responsible for maintaining our right-of-way. If there are concerns regarding a particular right-of-way we forward complaints/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.

 Your questions answered about CP in your community

Was this page useful?

Adobe Flash Player not installed or newer version required. Get the latest Adobe Flash Player.