Canadian Pacific: Leading the Rail Sector in Sustainable Transportation Solutions

Jan 20, 2022

Founded in 1881, Canadian Pacific (CP) operates a transcontinental freight rail and intermodal transportation service across an approximately 13,000-mile rail network connecting thousands of customers to the global marketplace. As sustainability challenges increasingly impact and disrupt global supply chains, CP remains steadfast in serving North America and the world with efficient and sustainable rail transportation solutions. Doing this work well requires leadership, innovation and a focus on long-term planning and value creation.  

Physical and transitional risks associated with climate change present significant challenges and opportunities to the global supply chain. CP is adapting business practices and developing long-term climate strategies to best prepare the company for these potential impacts to build resiliency into its operations. Keith Creel, CP’s President and CEO, understands the importance of being a climate action industry leader. “Addressing the impacts of climate change will require global action. The transition to a low-carbon economy is already underway, and CP is proud to be taking a leadership role in our industry.” 

In North America, shipping goods by rail is the most sustainable way to transport freight long distances over land. Rail is three to four times more fuel-efficient than highway truck transportation and generates up to 75 percent less greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A single-unit train keeps more than 300 trucks off public roads, benefitting both communities and the environment. “The railway industry is instrumental in a low carbon future, and we continue to play a significant role in helping to reduce overall transportation-related GHG emissions,” said Glen Wilson, CP’s Managing Director Environmental Risk. As CP strategically grows our business, we continue to focus on curtailing our emissions, while supporting further emissions reductions across the broader transportation sector.”

One of CP’s most recent initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is the development of North America’s first line-haul, hydrogen-powered locomotive. Dr. Kyle Mulligan, the company’s AVP, Operations Technology, explains the project’s significance. “Through CP’s Hydrogen Locomotive Program, we are converting an existing diesel line-haul locomotive to operate on a combination of hydrogen fuel cells and batteries. When fully operational, this locomotive could make it possible for us to provide freight rail services to our customers while emitting zero greenhouse gases.” 

The project is the first of its kind and, once complete, may open opportunities for the entire rail sector. “Currently, there are more than thirty thousand diesel-operated locomotives in the North American rail sector. Imagine the potential to reduce GHG emissions by upgrading all of these locomotives to operate on clean hydrogen.” Engineer-in-Training Veronika Kowalczyk recently started her career with CP working on this project, and she is passionate about its possibilities. “This could significantly reduce the sector’s carbon footprint and help pave the way for a more sustainable future,” she said. 

The company also focuses on supporting communities and creating positive social impact through long-standing community giving initiatives and stakeholder engagement programs. “We spend a lot of time engaging on sustainability topics with communities and organizations across our rail network,” said Tracy Miller, Senior Vice-President Operations, Southern and Eastern Region. “For example, we work closely with schools, municipalities and law enforcement agencies to raise community awareness about the importance of rail safety.” 

In another example, over the past 20 years, CP’s Holiday Train has traversed the company’s rail network during the holiday season, raising more than $21 million in donations and over five million pounds of food to support local communities and organizations in need. 

Through these sustainability initiatives, CP creates a positive impact across and beyond its operations. The company is working to embed sustainability across all levels of the organization and is investing in innovative technology to build a strong future for CP and the rail industry. “We are proud of the sustainable actions we have taken. Through these collective actions, we continue to pursue our goals and commitments to sustainability now and into the future,” said Creel. 


‘Through key investments in innovative solutions, Canadian Pacific is pioneering a sustainable future.’

Documentary and article produced by TBD Media group