Of all the railway networks in the world, Canada's is the third largest and transports the fourth largest volume of goods. Every year, Canadian railways move 70% of the country's surface goods (including 40% of its exports) and carry 70 million people, meeting motorists and pedestrians at thousands of public and private crossings.

In 2015, 1200 rail accidents were reported to the TSB, a 3% decrease from the 2014 total of 1238 but an 8% increase from the 2010­2014 average of 1115. Approximately 34% of the trains involved in rail accidents in 2015 were freight trains; 4% (57 trains) were passenger trains. The remaining 62% were mainly single cars or cuts of cars, locomotives, and track units.

In 2015, 14% of rail accidents involved vehicles or pedestrians at rail crossings, down slightly from the 16% average in the previous 5-year period. The safe interaction between railway operations and the public has been the subject of numerous TSB investigations and continues to present opportunities for safety improvements through the identification and elimination of risks.

The TSB's rail investigators have extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of train operations, railway infrastructure, mechanical / rolling stock, dangerous goods and emergency response, as well as the railway regulatory environment. Investigations in the rail mode touch on a wide variety of subjects, such as operational decision making, risk management, component failure, supervision, metallurgy and track train dynamics.