There are several examples of innovation and new technologies emerging from the Canadian railway supplier sector, such as hybrid battery diesel locomotives and locomotive idle reduction systems, however these technologies have a higher upfront capital cost than traditional technology.
Encouragement from the government by means of targeted funding for railways to purchase environmentally friendly technologies would significantly assist Canada railways' ability to reduce Greenhouse Gases emissions.
One of the simplest and most powerful ways to address transportation’s energy challenges is to reinvest in freight railroads. Freight transport is a much bigger part of the nation’s infrastructure than most people realize. In 2013, about $50 billion worth of goods was transported as freight cargo every single day in the United States alone. Trucks move 29% of the freight ton-miles, but are responsible for 77% of the sector’s emissions. Astonishingly, empty trucks account for about one-fifth of the truck miles traveled. According to the US Department of Transportation, the existing population of trucks on congested highways already substantially impedes interstate commerce, and projections suggest highway congestion will get much worse in the coming decades.1
Canada’s economic growth and standard of living depend on the export and import of goods, and our freight railways ensure that those goods make it to market efficiently and cost-effectively.
Canadian railways moved more than 359 million tonnes of freight in 2016. Through a network of intermodal terminals (rail, ship and truck) across North America, Canadian railways helped to deliver more than $175 billion worth of exports to markets across North America and around the globe.2
The United States has committed to and has long been awarding incentives to the railways to acquire new emissions reducing technologies. Funding available for railways to purchase emissions reducing technologies in the U.S. is over $100 million (U.S.) per year. The level of Canadian funding pales in comparison and the existing small amount of funding provided to the freight industry is scheduled to come to an end in the near future.
We are concerned with a lack of predictable, stable and long term funding dedicated to the take-up of environmental sustainable transportation as well as the commercialization of new technologies in the transportation industry. The Canadian government should sponsor transportation innovation with targeted funding, similar to that of solar panel and wind farm initiatives. The only sensible approach is to plan the future, and subsequently fund the future that will meet Canadian requirements for transportation and meet the other critical elements of future considerations such as environmental protection, renewable energy use etc. The railways helped to cobble Canada together as a nation, it cannot be left to private industry to develop on its own, this should be a strategic government initiative through deliberate planning or "targeted funding" to ensure the evolution of an environmentally friendly and energy-efficient national transportation system for the country.
We strongly recommend that adequate investments are being made by all levels of government in the effective commercialization of research so innovative technologies can more easily enter the market place.