Railway Line Construction: A Resource Tool

Table of Contents


This resource tool is designed to assist railway companies under the Canadian Transportation Agency's jurisdiction that want to construct a railway line and to assist parties who may be affected by any such construction.

Construction of a railway line

Under section 98 of the Canada Transportation Act, the following provisions apply to the construction of railway lines, including main lines, branch lines, yard tracks, sidings, spurs or other track auxiliary to a railway line.

  1. A railway company shall not construct a railway line without the Agency's approval.
  2. If the railway company applies to construct a line, the Agency may approve the application if it considers the location of the railway line reasonable. The Agency must consider requirements for railway operations and services, and the interests of the localities that the line will affect.
  3. No approval is needed to construct a railway line within the right-of-way of an existing line, or within 100 metres of the centre line of an existing railway line for a distance of no more than three kilometres.

Additionally, under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), the Agency must ensure that an environmental assessment of any proposed construction project is undertaken. The Agency may only allow proceed to consider the project if it is satisfied that there will be no significant adverse environmental effects, taking into account any mitigative measures proposed by the project proponent.


When a railway company wants to construct a railway line covered by the Act, it must properly notify all parties who may be affected by or have an interest in the proposed line, so that they can have the opportunity to make a submission to the Agency regarding the proposed line. Such notification may include direct notice to affected landowners, communities and others, as well as public notices in local newspapers. Applicants should contact Agency staff to determine the specific notice requirements for the proposed line.


If you wish to apply to the Agency, please submit your written, signed application:

By mail

Canadian Transportation Agency
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0N9

By courier

Canadian Transportation Agency
15 Eddy Street
17th Floor, Mailroom
Gatineau, Quebec
J8X 4B3

By fax


In addition, you should send a copy of the application to each of the parties involved.

Include the following information in the application:

  1. the following project details:
    1. the right-of-way of the proposed railway line,
    2. the property lines and names of the owners of the land that the railway line will cross,
    3. all proposed road crossings including private and farm crossings,
    4. all open drains, watercourses, road allowances (rights-of-way) and railways that the railway line may cross or affect,
    5. the approximate location and alignment of the track, and
  2. the profile of the proposed line;
  3. a map showing the general location of the proposed railway line and accurately indicating the beginning and end of the line, and the localities that the potential construction would affect;
  4. the purpose of the project, when it is not clear;
    1. two copies of a plan or drawing, prepared to scale and appropriately dated and signed, that show:
    2. an environmental assessment of the project that must be conducted by the applicant and screened by the Agency (this is a requirement of the CEAA);
    3. the results of consultation with interested parties; and
    4. any other pertinent information.


Authority to construct a railway line under the Act does not relieve the parties of any safety obligations under the Railway Safety Act (RSA). Transport Canada is responsible for safety and funding matters under the RSA. For more information on RSA safety requirements, go to the Rail Safety section of Transport Canada’s Web site or contact one of the following Transport Canada Surface Regional Offices:

Atlantic Region:
Quebec Region:
Ontario Region:
Prairie and Northern Region:
Pacific Region (B.C.):
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