Railway Transport Survey - Annual

Detailed information for 2006





Record number:


The survey collects annual financial, operating and employment data on railways operating in Canada.

Data release - January 29, 2008


The survey collects annual financial, operating and employment data on railways operating in Canada. The data are used as input to the Canadian System of National Accounts, by Transport Canada, other federal and provincial departments, and by transportation companies, consulting firms, universities and foreign governments. The information is used for the analysis of transportation activity, for marketing and economic studies, as well as industry performance measures.

Collection period: April to October


  • Transportation
  • Transportation by rail

Data sources and methodology

Target population

Common carrier railways operating in Canada that provide passenger and freight services. Excluded from the survey are companies that provide rail support services (bridges, terminal services, etc.) and sightseeing tours.

Instrument design

The survey questionnaire was developed in collaboration with specialists from Statistics Canada, Transport Canada and the Canadian railway industry. The questions were field tested to ensure that they were reasonable and sustainable. The questionnaire has remained stable over the years.


This survey is a census with a cross-sectional design.

Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore, no sampling is done.

Data sources

Responding to this survey is mandatory.

Data are collected directly from survey respondents.

Financial and operating statistics are collected from a mail census of common carrier railways operating in Canada. Companies falling under federal jurisdiction report data on schedules or forms, specified by Transport Canada directly to Transport Canada. Other railway carriers report directly to Statistics Canada on the same schedules or forms. Individual reports undergo comprehensive review upon receipt and are edited for consistency and reliability.

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

The answers on filed documents are compared with the responses of the previous year for consistency. The data are also validated through the use of various computerized edits to check the addition and subtraction of completed fields as well as the relationships between selected fields. Invalid records are rejected and corrected.


Missing or incorrect values are modelled only if all efforts to obtain the required actual figures have failed.


This methodology type does not apply to this statistical program.

Quality evaluation

The combined survey results are analyzed before dissemination. In general, this includes a detailed review of the data, a review of general economic conditions as well as historic trends and comparisons with other data sources.

Users are advised to consult the Uniform Classification of Accounts for concepts and reporting definitions as survey results may be misconstrued or improperly interpreted without prior knowledge of the accounts. For example, carriers may report total traffic over their tracks, hence operating statistics, such as passenger car-kilometers and freight car-kilometers may be duplicated.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential.

If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data. Data for a specific industry or variable may be suppressed (along with that of a second industry or variable) if the number of enterprises in the population is too low.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Annual estimates are provided for the reference year. The data for the previous reference year are revised if necessary. As this is an annual program, seasonal adjustments are not applicable.

Data accuracy

While considerable effort is made to ensure high standards throughout all stages of collection and processing, the resulting estimates are inevitably subject to a certain degree of error. These errors can be broken down into two major types: non-sampling and sampling. Since the survey is a census of the target population, only non-sampling errors are possible.

Non-sampling errors may occur for many reasons. For example, non-response is an important source of non-sampling error. Population coverage, differences in the interpretation of questions, incorrect information from respondents, and mistakes in recording, coding and processing data are other examples of non-sampling errors.

Non-sampling errors are controlled through a careful design of the questionnaire, the use of a minimal number of simple concepts and consistency checks. Coverage error was minimized by using multiple sources to update the frame. Measures such as response rates are used as indicators of the possible extent of non-sampling errors.

The weighted response rate represents the proportion of the total revenues accounted for by units that responded to the survey. The weighted response rate was 98.7%.

The following link leads to a table entitled "Number of Regional and Short Haul Carriers". The table indicates the number of regional and short haul carriers that have provided data for particular items by year.

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