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By using a wide variety of technologies we build efficiency into every train we assemble, thus enabling our employees to work smarter and, ultimately, deliver more to our customers. We have some of the best business solutions and continue to lead the industry in the use of technology to deliver our transportation services. 


Here’s a small sample of the systems that we use to ensure that all trains arrive at destination safely and on time.  


Right-Time Business Intelligence (RTBI)

RTBI is a system providing a map-based graphical view of the CN network with near real-time information on trains, locomotives and customer shipments. With consolidated information from multiple systems and asset telemetry, RTBI offers the current state of the railway information to support decision-makers and enable them to be more proactive in identifying opportunities.


RTBI is a multi-layer application composed of several technologies such as Websphere Message Broker, Java, Complex Event Processor, Silverlight and a complete suite of ESRI products for the spatial side of the solution. All these technologies combined result in a slick application that brings unique capabilities to CN.



Our first SAP project went live in 1999. Today, we are SAP’s global lighthouse account for freight railways, working with the German-based technology leader on a variety of exciting initiatives. 


We have leveraged the enterprise solution to manage our financial, material, people, mobile, mechanical, engineering, and fixed assets, among others. Throughout the process we’ve retired more than 250 legacy systems, simplified our infrastructure, and created a robust, midrange technology architecture. More than 20 different SAP modules are currently leveraged at CN, which is more than any other railway in the world.



DataCity is a single source of management information for strategic decision-making on all aspects of the company’s operations. The web-based portal provides access to over 200 reports and key performance indicators based on the previous day’s data from more than 20 transactional systems. There are measures for all aspects of operations and service performance as well as reports on profitability, financials, safety, and so on. Here too, CN leads the industry with its business intelligence platform, leveraging SAP Business Objects, Business Warehouse, IBM Netezza and other tools.


Mobile Solutions

CN also delivers and supports solutions that are as mobile as the people who use them. We have disconnected mobile applications on laptops for over 1,600 field engineering staff in order to perform asset inspection, work management, time and material reporting. CN is also providing iPad minis to more than 1,000 of our truck drivers for dispatching and work reporting. We also have custom smartphone applications for our customers and employees.


Automated Gate System 

The Automated Gate System (AGS) is used to manage trucks entering and exiting CN intermodal terminals across Canada and the U.S. The system is comprised of various technology pieces such as an imaging portal, gate-stand and sensors, all of which link to a central system controller application. As a truck enters the terminal, cameras record its movement and scanners identify the equipment. The driver then identifies himself using a fingerprint scanner at the gate-stand and, if the information is valid, allows the driver into the terminal.



SmartYard is a yard-management Java application that enables better asset utilization in CN’s major switching yards. SmartYard takes information from various CN systems, combines the data, then provides the best sequence for processing cars. The system helps CN’s yard employees make better decisions by enabling them to anticipate and react to changing yard decisions. By providing increased efficiencies, SmartYard allows CN to handle bigger volumes of traffic through its yards. 


… And Many More

We have hundreds of other systems and applications supporting almost every aspect of CN’s business. They are developed in a multitude of programming languages—including Java, ABAP, .NET, COBOL, TELON and Natural.


Technology Landscape

To support CN’s operations we have over 1,900 servers which host hundreds of systems, applications and databases. The company also relies on its own robust telecommunications network that includes over 6,000 miles (965 kilometres) of fiber optic designed to stay operational in the presence of single points of failure. 


Our operations team proactively monitors all production systems and applications on a 24/7 basis in an effort to prevent business impact, and rigorously manage all changes applied to production. We also place the highest importance on disaster recovery and have a strong plan in place to make sure we are prepared to face any type of disaster.  

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