Canadian National Railway - B

Canadian National Railway continued
CN Passenger trains
CN Early years
When CNR was first created, it inherited a large number of routes from its constituent railways, but eventually pieced its passenger network into one coherent network. For example, on December 3, 1920, CNR inaugurated the Continental Limited, which operated over four of its predecessors, as well as the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway. The 1920s saw growth in passenger travel, and CNR inaugurated several new routes and introduced new services, such as radio, on its trains. However, the growth in passenger travel ended with the Great Depression, which lasted between 1929 and 1939, but picked up somewhat in World War II. By the end of World War II, many of CNR's passenger cars were old and worn down. Accidents at Dugald, Manitoba, in 1947 and Canoe River, British Columbia, in 1950, wherein extra passenger trains composed of older, wooden equipment collided with transcontinental passenger trains composed of newer, all-steel equipment, demonstrated the dangers inherent in the older cars. In 1953, CNR ordered 359 lightweight passenger cars, allowing them to re-equip their major routes.
On April 24, 1955, the same day that the CPR introduced its transcontinental train The Canadian, CNR introduced its own new transcontinental passenger train, the Super Continental, which used new streamlined rolling stock. However, the Super Continental was never considered as glamorous as the Canadian. For example, it did not include dome cars. Dome cars would be added in the early 1960s with the purchase of six former Milwaukee Road "Super Domes". They were used on the Super Continental in the summer tourist season.
New services
Rail passenger traffic in Canada declined significantly between World War II and 1960 due to automobiles and airplanes. In the 1960s CN's privately owned rival CPR reduced its passenger services significantly. However, the government-owned CN continued much of its passenger services and marketed new schemes. One, introduced on 5 April 1962, was the "Red, White and Blue" fare structure, which offered deep discounts on off-peak days ("red") and were credited with increasing passenger numbers on some routes as much as 600%. Another exercise was the rebranding of the express trains in the Ontario–Quebec corridor with the Rapido label.
In 1968, CN introduced a new high-speed train, the United Aircraft Turbo, which was powered by gas turbines instead of diesel engines. It made the trip between Toronto and Montreal in four hours, but was not entirely successful because it was somewhat uneconomical and not always reliable. The trainsets were retired in 1982 and later scrapped at Metrecy, in Laval, Quebec.
On CN's narrow gauge lines in Newfoundland, CN also operated a main line passenger train that ran from St. John's to Port aux Basques called the Caribou. Nicknamed the Newfie Bullett, this train ran until June 1969. It was replaced by the CN Roadcruiser Buses. The CN Roadcruiser service was started in fall 1968 and was run in direct competition with the company's own passenger train. Travellers saw that the buses could travel between St. John's and Port aux Basques in 14 hours versus the train's 22 hours. After the demise of the Caribou, the only passenger train service run by CN on the island were the mixed (freight and passenger) trains that ran on the Bonavista, Carbonear and Argentia branch lines. The only passenger service surviving on the main line was between Bishop's Falls and Corner Brook.
In 1976, CN created an entity called Via-CN as a separate operating unit for its passenger services. Via evolved into a coordinated marketing effort with CP Rail for rail passenger services, and later into a separate Crown corporation responsible for inter-city passenger services in Canada. Via Rail took over CN's passenger services on April 1, 1978.
CN continued to fund its commuter rail services in Montreal until 1982, when the Montreal Urban Community Transit Commission (MUCTC) assumed financial responsibility for them, operation was contracted out to CN, which eventually spun off a separate subsidiary, Montrain, for this purpose. When the Montreal–Deux-Montagnes line was completely rebuilt in 1994–1995, the new rolling stock came under the ownership of the MUCTC, until a separate government agency, the Agence métropolitaine de transport (now AMT), was set up to consolidate all suburban transit administration around Montreal. Since then, suburban service has resumed to Saint-Hilaire, and a new line to Mascouche opened in December 2014.
In Newfoundland, Terra Transport would continue to operate the mixed trains on the branch lines until 1984. The main line run between Corner Brook and Bishop's Falls made its last run on September 30, 1988. Terra Transport/CN would run the Roadcruiser bus service until March 29, 1996, whereupon the bus service was sold off to DRL Coachlines of Triton, Newfoundland.
Expansion and service cuts
From the acquisition of the Algoma Central Railway in 2001 until service cancellation in July 2015, CN operated passenger service between Sault Ste. Marie and Hearst, Ontario. The passenger service operated three days per week and provided year-round access to remote tourist camps and resorts.
In January 2014, CN announced it was cutting the service, blaming the Government of Canada for cutting a subsidy necessary to keep the service running. It was argued as an essential service, however, the service had always been deemed financially uneconomic, and despite an extension of funding in April 2014, Algoma Central service was suspended as of July 2015.
CN operates the Agawa Canyon Tour excursion, an excursion that runs from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, north to the Agawa Canyon. The canyon tour train consists of up to 28 passenger cars and 2 dining cars, the majority of which were built for CN by Canadian Car and Foundry in 1953–54. These cars were transferred to the D&RGW Ski Train and bought back by CN in 2009.
After CN acquired BC Rail in 2004, it started operating a railbus service between Seton Portage and Lillooet, British Columbia called the Kaoham Shuttle.
CN crews used to operate commuter trains on behalf of GO Transit in the Toronto and the surrounding vicinity. This changed in 2008 when a deal was reached with Bombardier Transportation that switched all CN crews for Bombardier crews.
The CNR acquired its first 4-8-4 Confederation locomotives in 1927. Over the next 20 years, it ordered over 200 for passenger and heavy freight service. The CNR also used several 4-8-2 Mountain locomotives, almost exclusively for passenger service. No. 6060, a streamlined 4-8-2, was the last CN steam locomotive, running in excursion service in the 1970s. CNR also used several 2-8-2 Mikado locomotives.
CN inherited from the Canadian Northern Railway several boxcab electrics used through the Mount Royal Tunnel. Those were built between 1914 and 1918 by General Electric in Schenectady, New York. To operate the new Montreal Central Station, which opened in 1943 and was to be kept free of locomotive smoke, they were supplemented by nearly identical locomotives from the National Harbours Board, those engines were built in 1924 by Beyer, Peacock & Company and English Electric. In 1950, three General Electric centre-cab electric locomotives were added to the fleet. In 1952 CN added electric multiple units built by Canadian Car and Foundry.
Electrification was restricted to Montreal, and went from Central Station to Saint-Lambert (south), Turcot (west), Montréal-Nord (east) and Saint-Eustache-sur-le-lac, later renamed Deux-Montagnes, (north). But as steam locomotives gave way to diesels, engine changeovers were no longer necessary, and catenary was eventually pulled from the west, east and from the south. However, until the end of the original electrification, CN's electric locomotives pulled Via Rail's trains, including its diesel electric locomotives, to and from Central Station.
The last 2,400 V DC CN electric locomotive ran on June 6, 1995, the very same locomotive that pulled the inaugural train through the Mount Royal Tunnel back in 1918. Later in 1995 the AMT's Electric Multiple Units began operating under 25 kV AC 60 Hz electrification, and in 2014, dual-power locomotives entered service on the Mascouche line.
In May 1966, CN ordered five seven-car UAC TurboTrain for the Montreal–Toronto service. It planned to operate them in tandem, connecting two trains together into a larger fourteen-car arrangement with a total capacity of 644 passengers. The Canadian trains were built by Montreal Locomotive Works, with their ST6 engines supplied by UAC's Canadian division (now Pratt & Whitney Canada) in Longueuil, Quebec.
CN and their ad agency wanted to promote the new service as an entirely new form of transit, so they dropped the "train" from the name. In CN's marketing literature the train was referred to simply as the "Turbo", although it retained the full TurboTrain name in CN's own documentation and communication with UAC. A goal of CN's marketing campaign was to get the train into service for Expo '67, and the Turbo was rushed through its trials. It was late for Expo, a disappointment to all involved, but the hectic pace did not let up and it was cleared for service after only one year of testing.
The Turbo's first demonstration run in December 1968 with Conductor James Abbey of Toronto in command, included a large press contingent. An hour into its debut run, the Turbo collided with a truck at a highway crossing near Kingston.
The Turbo's final run was on October 31, 1982.
CNR's first foray into diesel motive power was with self-propelled railcars. In November 1925, Railcar No. 15820 completed a 72-hour journey from Montreal to Vancouver with the 185-horsepower (138 kW) diesel engine in nearly continuous operation for the entire 4,726 kilometres (2,937 mi) trip. Railcars were used on marginal economic routes instead of the more-expensive-to-operate steam locomotives used for busier routes.
In 1929, the CNR made its first experiment with mainline diesel electric locomotives, acquiring two 1,330-horsepower (990 kW) engines from Westinghouse, numbered 9000 and 9001. It was the first North American railway to use diesels in mainline service. These early units proved the feasibility of the diesel concept, but were not always reliable. No. 9000 served until 1939, and No. 9001 until 1947. The difficulties of the Great Depression precluded much further progress towards diesel locomotives. The CNR began its conversion to diesel locomotives after World War II, and had fully dieselized by 1960. Most of the CNR's first-generation diesel locomotives were made by General Motors Diesel (GMD) and Montreal Locomotive Works.
For its narrow-gauge lines in Newfoundland CN acquired from GMD the 900 series, Models NF110 (road numbers 900–908) and NF210 (road numbers 909–946). For use on the branch lines, CN purchased the EMD G8 (road numbers 800–805).
For passenger service the CNR acquired GMD FP9 diesels, as well as CLC CPA16-5, ALCO MLW FPA-2 and FPA-4 diesels. These locomotives made up most of the CNR's passenger fleet, although CN also owned some 60 RailLiners (Budd Rail Diesel Cars), some dual-purpose diesel freight locomotives (freight locomotives equipped with passenger train apparatus, such as steam generators) as well as the locomotives for the Turbo trainsets. Via acquired most of CN's passenger fleet when it took over CN passenger service in 1978.
The CN fleet as of 2007 consists of 1,548 locomotives, most of which are products of either General Motors' Electro-Motive Division (EMD), or General Electric/GE Transportation Systems. Some locomotives more than 30 years old remain in service.
Much of the current roster is made up of EMD SD70I and EMD SD75I locomotives and GE C44-9W locomotives. Recently acquired are the new EMD SD70M-2 and GE ES44DC. Since 2015 the GE ES44AC & GE ET44AC are the latest units.
Beginning in the early summer months of 2010, CN purchased a small order of GE C40-8's and GE C40-8W's from Union Pacific and BNSF Railway, respectively. The intent was to use them as a cheaper power alternative. CN currently have 65 GE ES44ACs on its roster and all 65 were ordered and delivered from December 2012 – December 2013. They are CN's first AC-powered locomotives. In 2015, CN started ordering more GE units, the ET44AC.
On November 17, 2020, CN revealed five heritage units to mark the 25th anniversary of becoming a publicly-traded company. They had originally been spotted a month earlier, but were not yet formally announced by the company. The locomotives were repainted into various schemes of railroads CN had previously acquired, and included four GE ET44ACs painted in IC, EJ&E, WC, and BC Rail paint, and an EMD SD70M-2 painted in GTW paint.
Comfort cab
CN locomotives have long featured unique features, unlike the stock EMD and GE locomotives. CN introduced a wide-nosed four-window Comfort Cab, the predecessor to the now standard North American Safety Cab, which is now standard on new North American freight locomotives.
Ditch lights
After a BC derailment, CN introduced ditch lights, lights mounted on or just below the anti-climbers on the front pilot of a locomotive. These are used to make trains more visible at grade-crossings, and to give better visibility around curves. Since then, ditch lights have become standard equipment on all North American locomotives.
Class and marker lights
CN continued to use class lights on its locomotives for many years, up to as recently as the C40-8M and SD60F (which feature red, green and white class lights), and the first order C44-9WL locomotives which retained white class lights. More recently, CN has had red marker lights installed on their ES44DC and SD70M-2 locomotives, for use when the locomotives are in DPU service. The latest orders of the GE's all have the red marker lights on both ends of the locomotive.
CN's first few orders of ES44DC's, like their C44-9W's, feature "tear-drop" windshields, windshields with the outer lower corner dropped (like earlier SD70Is), as opposed to the standard rectangular GE windshield, for better range of vision. CN's latest GE units now have the standard rectangular windshields.
The first order of SD70M-2 locomotives (8000 series) had their headlights mounted on the cab, while the second order (8800 & 8900 series) dropped the headlight to the nose, and also features added red marker lights mounted above the windshields on the cab.
Control stands
While many railroads have ordered new "desktop" controls, where the controls are arranged on a desk—CN returned earlier than most to the conventional control stand that most locomotive engineers prefer, which features a stand to the side of the engineer with controls that stick out horizontally. This arrangement makes reverse operation easier, and allows engineers to "put their feet up," without feeling stuck behind a desk all day.
Car body
CN's General Motors retired SD50F, retired SD60F, retired Bombardier HR-616's, and General Electric C40-8M feature a full-width car body that is tapered directly behind the cab, to allow for better rear visibility. This is referred to as a "Draper taper" after its creator. The first order of the GE C44-9WL (2500–2522) was also initially an order for 18 locomotives with the full-width Draper taper car body. They were changed to a standard long hood with a CN-style four-window cab and the order was increased to 23 locomotives at the same price.
Freight cars
  • Rotary gondola
  • Open hopper
  • Auto carrier
  • Tri-level auto carrier
  • Auto parts boxcar
  • Boxcar
  • Newsprint boxcar
  • Wood pulp boxcar
  • Woodchip gondola
  • Log car
  • Centerbeam car
  • Bulkhead flat car
  • Double door boxcar
  • Government hopper car
  • High-cube and jumbo
  • Covered hopper
  • Metals box car
  • Covered coil gondolas
  • Standard gondolas
  • Flatcar
  • Ore gondola
Overseas intermodal containers
  • 20-foot (6.1 m) containers
  • 40-foot (12 m) containers
  • 45-foot (14 m) containers

North American intermodal containers

  • 48-foot (15 m) containers
  • 48-foot (15 m) heater/reefer containers
  • 50-foot (15 m) reefer/heater containers(modified 48)
  • 53-foot (16 m) containers
  • 53-foot (16 m) heater/reefer containers
  • Container chassis
  • Max Atlas 40-to-53-foot (12 to 16 m) extendable container chassis
  • Di-Mond 40-to-53-foot (12 to 16 m) extendable container chassis
Aqua Train
CN operates a rail barge service between Prince Rupert, British Columbia to Whittier, Alaska, since 1963. The barge has eight tracks that can hold about 50 railcars. The barge is towed by tugs contracted to Foss Maritime.
Major facilities
CN owns a large number of large yards and repair shops across their system. They are used for many operations, ranging from intermodal terminals to classification yards. Examples include:
Hump yards
Hump yards work by using a small hill over which cars are pushed before being released down a slope and switched automatically into cuts of cars, ready to join into outbound trains. CN's active humps include:
  • Vaughan, Ontario: MacMillan Yard
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba: Symington Yard
  • Gary, Indiana: Kirk Yard
  • Other major yards
  • Battle Creek, Michigan: Battle Creek Yard
  • Calgary, Alberta: Sarcee Yard
  • Champaign, Illinois: Champaign Yard
  • Dartmouth, Nova Scotia: Dartmouth Yard
  • Edmonton, Alberta: Walker Yard (formerly Calder Yard) - Also home to CN's North American Operations Facility and rail traffic control
  • Flat Rock, Michigan: Flat Rock Yard
  • Fond du Lac, Wisconsin: Shops Yard
  • Lévis, Quebec: Joffre Yard
  • Moncton, New Brunswick: Gordon Yard
  • Montreal, Quebec: Taschereau Yard
  • New Orleans, Louisiana: Mays Yard
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia: Rockingham Yard
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan: Chappell Yard
  • Surrey, British Columbia: Thornton Yard
  • Toledo, Ohio: Lang Yard
  • Windsor, Ontario: Van de Water Yard
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba: Transcona Shops, Symington Yard
Intermodal terminals
  • Auburn, Maine: terminal serviced the St. Lawrence & Atlantic Railroad
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
  • Detroit, Michigan (Ferndale)
  • Duluth, Minnesota
  • Edmonton, Alberta
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • Gulfport, Mississippi
  • Jackson, Mississippi: terminal owned by the Kansas City Southern Railway
  • Memphis, Tennessee
  • Mobile, Alabama
  • Moncton, New Brunswick
  • Montreal, Quebec
  • New Orleans, Louisiana
  • Prince George, British Columbia
  • Prince Rupert, British Columbia
  • Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
  • Toronto, Ontario: main terminal is at Brampton, Ontario, smaller ramp and Roadrailer service at MacMillan Yard
  • Surrey, British Columbia
  • Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canadian National Railway
Reporting mark: CN
Locale: Canada and the contiguous United States
Dates of operation: 6 June 1919–present
Technical Track gauge: 4 ft 8+1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Previous gauge: 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Length: 32,831 km (20,400 mi)
Type: Public
Traded as:
S&P/TSX 60 component (CNR)
Founded: 6 June 1919
102 years ago
Founder: Government of Canada
Headquarters: 935 de la Gauchetière Street, Montreal, Quebec
Area served: Canada, United States
Key people: Robert Pace
Jean-Jacques Ruest
(President and CEO)
Margaret A. McKenzie
(Founder and CFO)
Revenue: CA$14.912 billion (2019)
Operating income: CA$5.593 billion (2019)
Net income: CA$4.216 billion (2019)
Owner: Bill Gates through Cascade Investment (14.4%) and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2.14%)
MFS Investment Management (4.8%)
Wellington Management Company (3.17%)
The Vanguard Group (2.77%)
BlackRock (2.4%)
Number of employees: 24,000 (2018)
Rail Holidays
Rail Vacations
Luxury Trains
Luxury Tours
International Trains
International Tours
home Rail-Pass & Train Tickets & International Rail Holidays Hotel Booking & Hotel Reservations & Hotel Accomodation B&B Booking & B&B Reservations & B&B Accommodation Hostel Booking & Youth Hostel Reservations & Hostel Accommodation Chalet Rental & Holiday Homes & Vacation Homes Ski Pass Booking & Ski Pass Reservations & Ski Lift Pass Flight Tickets & Airline Reservations & Flight Booking Ferry Tickets & Ferry Booking & Ferry Reservations Car Rental Booking & Car Hire Reservations Excursions & Days Out & Day Trips & Theme Parks Rail Pass Booking & Rail Pass Reservations & Eurail & Interrail Rail Tickets & Rail Reservations & International Train Tickets Weekend Trips & Weekend Breaks & Weekend Away  Travel Insurance & Business Travel Insurance Eurotunnel Tickets & Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Reservations