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Network Efficiencies

Discontinuance, which is the interruption of railway service on a line that is no longer profitable to operate, is regulated by the Canada Transportation Act in Canada and the Surface Transportation Board in the United States.

Since 1992, CN has discontinued operations on several thousand miles of track.

What does discontinuance entail?

  • The rail and ties are removed immediately after discontinuance
  • Culverts, bridges and ballast rail bed are left in place
  • In certain cases, on-going environmental management of the rail bed* and culverts may be required.

Rail beds do not generally pose any environmental risk, although there has been heightened public concern over slag ballast rail beds. Studies commissioned by Environment Canada, however, have demonstrated that the heightened concern may be unwarranted.

Giving old lines new life

Of course, discontinued rail lines may still have a purpose for the general public. That’s why CN makes every effort to identify secondary uses for those corridors

  • Some of the former rail lines are now being used for a variety of recreational activities, including forming sections of the Trans Canada Trail.
  • In other instances, it may be more suitable to use the former rail lines as public transportation corridors.

For more details, read more about secondary uses.