CP builds new bridges when conditions or traffic changes require it. However, in most cases, detailed inspections and the resulting professionally recommended maintenance practices allow our bridges – some over a century old – to safely support our current traffic. All are monitored under a strict regimen of annual and special inspections as part of CP's bridge management program.
CP developed its program in 2010, in accordance with Federal Railroad Administration regulations in the US and Transport Canada guidance in Canada. Both regulators have the authority to oversee the safety of railway operations and if necessary, order that actions be taken to address safety concerns.
The cosmetic condition of a bridge does not necessarily have any relation to its ability to carry weight, so each bridge is inspected as required to ensure it is safe to carry current traffic. Many older railroad bridges were overbuilt to handle steam locomotives which, due to their unique properties, necessitated extra support. In addition, while design of bridges for the mechanics of steam locomotion makes railroad bridges generally stronger than required for today's loading, many parts on railroad bridges do not carry load and are present to protect the bridge from the effects of the environment or roadway traffic.
Our BMP contains strict controls that are designed to meet the requirements of the FRA and TC.
Important parts of the CP program include the following: