The Canadian freight railway industry was the most lucrative of the country’s rail operations, amounting to some 14.6 billion Canadian dollars in freight revenue in 2020 (around 11.5 billion U.S. dollars). This revenue outweighed Canada’s total rail operating expenses by about 4 billion Canadian dollars. The Canadian National Railway Company (CN) was the leader of this profitable sector, ranking among the highest valued railway companies worldwide in May 2022. A Class I freight railway spanning Canada, CN’s railway network also extended to Midwestern and Southern United States and covered some 19,500 route miles. The company was established by the Canadian federal government in 1919 and was then privatized by the government on November 17, 1995.
Financial performance rebounds as challenges shift
CN generated total revenue of just under 14.5 billion Canadian dollars in 2021 (around 11.4 billion U.S. dollars), a five percent increase compared to its 2020 results, which were impacted by the drop in demand due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the company’s revenue had not yet reached its pre-pandemic levels when it was at its highest. The company further reported about 8.9 billion Canadian dollars in operating expenses (some seven billion U.S. dollars). Despite revenues lower than 2019’s, Canadian National Railway’s operating ratio—at its highest in 2020—had reached 61.2 percent in 2021, lower than its 2019 performance. This suggests the company quickly rebounded from the pandemic and the 2020 Canadian pipeline and railway protests, which impacted its operations throughout Canada as it halted traffic along an important rail line between Toronto and Montreal.
The Canadian operator will also contend with the announced Canadian Pacific Railway and Kansas City Southern merger. Canadian Pacific is CN’s main competitor in its home market and would extend its operations to Mexico by buying KCS—a market outside of CN’s rail network.
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In the following 4 chapters, you will quickly find the 32 most important statistics relating to "Canadian National Railway".