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Rail Transportation

Winnipeg is the only major city between Vancouver, BC and Thunder Bay, ON with direct US rail connections and is on the mainline of Canada’s two national rail systems: The Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) and Canadian National Railway (CN).

Both CP and CN maintain extensive and modern yards with major service facilities. At CN’s Symington Yard over 3,000 cars can be handled in a day. CP’s yard processes an average of 2,000 cars per day.

CN’s Symington Yard has a capacity of about 3,500 rail cars and includes CN’s locomotive reliability center for its fleet of high horsepower GE locomotives. The yard also includes a radio shop, electronic repair shop, carload center, and freight car repair shop.

Also located in Winnipeg is CN’s National Customer Support Centre (CSC), which provides a single point of contact for CN customers with respect to transportation inquiries and service requests. The center occupies the entire fifth floor of Winnipeg’s downtown Cityplace. The CSC’s more than 500 highly trained employees ensure that the service expectations of CN’s customers are met in a timely, efficient way.

CP operates a multi-million dollar Transportation Service Centre (TSC) in Winnipeg. This Centre is responsible for tracking, ordering, supplying, and coordinating the placement of loaded and empty railcars. The TSC consolidates the functions of nine major customer centers across the country into a single, high-tech operation.

Today, CP employs approximately 2,700 people in Manitoba. Close to 2,000 of these employees are based in Winnipeg. CP’s total direct expenditure in Manitoba through employment, purchases, capital spending and taxes is approximately $200 million a year.

CP’s Weston shops, in Winnipeg, is one of CP’s key repair facilities. Winnipeg supplies the entire railway with freight car wheelsets, truck and refurbished freight car components, and maintenance equipment such as frogs and switch points. As well, the shop is the center for the maintenance of a large portion of CP’s GM-built locomotive fleet.

Both railways also have large intermodal facilities in Winnipeg. Intermodal is the movement of shipments from origin to destination by different modes, usually ship, train, and truck. Land-based intermodal transportation combines the short-haul advantages of trucks, with the long-haul advantages of rail. CN’s Winnipeg Intermodal Terminal is ideally located adjacent to CN’s mainline through Winnipeg, and a major highway. The facility handles about 90,000 units coming into Winnipeg from across the continent or leaving Winnipeg for export to international markets. CP’s intermodal terminal handles an average of 35,000 units per year.

With three rail connections to the US, Winnipeg enjoys ready access to the world’s largest market. CP has a network of 24 intermodal terminals in Canada and the US. The railway also has eight border crossings between Canada and the US, offering ready access to our markets in both countries. CP operates container terminals and additional handling facilities to serve Midwest US centers, including Chicago, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee.

Canadian National Railway spans Canada and mid-America, from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, serving the ports of Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, New Orleans, and Mobile, AK, to key cities of Toronto, Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, St. Louis, and Jackson, MS, with connections to all points in North America.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad with direct connections to almost three-quarters of the US and service into Mexico has terminal facilities in Winnipeg under the name of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Manitoba Inc. The Canadian subsidiary operates a joint train to the Emerson border crossing with CN, where they connect with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad which delivers the BNSF cars containing Canadian goods to various points of the US. The reverse is also used for the US to deliver their goods to Winnipeg and Western Canada.

Churchill is not only a major tourist site but Manitoba’s northern seaport. OmniTRAX operates the Hudson Bay Railway, a short line railroad connecting The Pas and Churchill, moving commodities such as grains, ores, and wood products through the seaport. Already a long-established export route for agricultural and mineral commodities, Churchill has great potential as a trading port for markets in northern and eastern Europe and Latin America.