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Burnaby rail corridor improvements complete, improving access to North Shore port terminals

May 30, 2022

Rail improvements in Burnaby will enhance Canada’s trade capacity and sustain growth in the gateway 

Vancouver, B.C.: The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, CN and the City of Burnaby announced today the completion of rail upgrades in Burnaby, B.C. as part of the Burnaby Rail Corridor Improvements Project.  

“Congratulations to CN and everyone involved in completing the rail components of this important infrastructure project, which aims to reduce transportation bottlenecks and increase our country’s trade efficiency. We’re pleased to reach this important project milestone that will allow for more fluid rail movement to port terminals in North Vancouver,” said Cliff Stewart, vice president, infrastructure, at the port authority.  

The completed rail improvements have reduced the amount of time by half that trains wait in Burnaby for the tunnel to vent. About 65% of rail traffic through Burnaby goes to the North Shore, so these improvements will result in more trains per hour able to deliver goods to port terminals for export and will reduce train idling in Burnaby.  

 “The investments to upgrade Thornton Tunnel are already reducing the amount of time trains wait to transit to and from the North Shore,” said James Thompson, Vice-President, Western Region, CN. “This significantly improves rail fluidity to North Shore port terminals and supports our customers. CN is proud that its employees and contractors completed this important project safely, and we thank the Government of Canada, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and the City of Burnaby for their support.” 

The rail components of this project included: 

  • Upgrades to the Thornton Tunnel ventilation system to reduce the time between trains travelling through the tunnel 
  • A new rail siding track from Willingdon Avenue to Piper Avenue, parallel to existing tracks, to stage trains accessing the Thornton Tunnel 

In the next phase of this project, the port authority will lead work to deliver a new, four-lane overpass extending and elevating Holdom Avenue south over the rail corridor and Still Creek and connecting with Douglas Road. The port authority expects to begin construction in 2023, following the completion of procurement activities and a final phase of public engagement. 

We look forward to advancing work on the Holdom Overpass over the coming year,” continued Stewart. Separating road and rail traffic will improve safety and community access, and support Canada’s anticipated trade growth through the port for years to come.”  

The City of Burnaby recently updated its transportation plan, reaffirming support for the Burnaby Rail Corridor Improvements Project.  

“As the city works towards its transportation and climate goals we are pleased to see progress on this project,” said Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley. “Limiting the time that trains wait in Burnaby will reduce emissions and supports economic activity. We also look forward to the community benefits of the new overpass, particularly improved north-south connectivity, better access for walkers and cyclists, and recognition of local Indigenous groups through new artwork.” 

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I congratulate our partners, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, CN and the City of Burnaby, for completing improvements on the Burnaby rail corridor and the access to the North Shore terminal,” said the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra. “These improvements will significantly expand Canada’s trade capacity and enhance supply chain efficiency.” 

The Burnaby Rail Corridor Improvements Project is funded by the Government of Canada, through its National Trade Corridors Fund, the port authority and CN. It is one of 40 projects identified in the Greater Vancouver Gateway 2030 Strategy, a strategic plan developed by the Gateway Transportation Collaboration Forum for smart infrastructure investment to remove bottlenecks impeding the growth of trade, while addressing the community impacts of goods movement and population growth. 

The National Trade Corridors Fund is a competitive, merit-based program designed to help infrastructure owners and users invest in the critical transportation assets that support economic activity in Canada. A total of $4.6 billion over 11 years (2017-2028) has been allocated for the National Trade Corridors Fund. 

Learn more about the Holdom Overpass Project at 

For more information 

Media contact 

Arpen Rana 
Media relations advisor
[email protected]  


About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority and the Port of Vancouver  

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is the federal agency responsible for the stewardship of the Port of Vancouver. Like all Canada Port Authorities, we are accountable to the federal minister of transport, and operate pursuant to the Canada Marine Act with a mandate to enable Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver, while protecting the environment and considering local communities. The port authority is structured as a non-share corporation, is financially self-sufficient and does not rely on tax dollars for operations. Our revenues come from port terminals and tenants who lease port lands, and from port users who pay various fees such as harbour dues. Profits are reinvested in port infrastructure. The port authority has control over the use of port land and water, which includes more than 16,000 hectares of water, over 1,500 hectares of land, and approximately 350 kilometres of shoreline. Located on the southwest coast of British Columbia in Canada, the Port of Vancouver extends from Roberts Bank and the Fraser River up to and including Burrard Inlet, bordering 16 municipalities and intersecting the traditional territories and treaty lands of several Coast Salish First Nations. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest port, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo. Enabling the trade of approximately $240 billion in goods with more than 170 world economies, port activities sustain 115,300 jobs, $7 billion in wages, and $11.9 billion in GDP across Canada. 

About CN 

CN is a world-class transportation leader and trade-enabler. Essential to the economy, to the customers, and to the communities it serves, CN safely transports more than 300 million tons of natural resources, manufactured products, and finished goods throughout North America every year. As the only railroad connecting Canada’s Eastern and Western coasts with the U.S. South through a 18,600-mile rail network, CN and its affiliates have been contributing to community prosperity and sustainable trade since 1919. CN is committed to programs supporting social responsibility and environmental stewardship. 

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