Guelph Junction Railway

History of Guelph Junction Railway

Guelph Junction Railway (GJR) was established in 1886 by a Special Act of the federal government to foster economic growth in Guelph and the surrounding communities. The City of Guelph has owned the railway since 1908. GJR operates on 38.6 kilometres of track that runs from Guelph Junction near Campbellville, Ontario to Guelph’s northwest industrial park. Guelph Junction Railway connects with the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway.

Rail safety

How much do you know about rail safety? No matter your age, being safe around railway crossings and tracks is extremely important—in fact, it could save your life. Visit Operation Lifesaver’s webpage for helpful resources for kids, drivers, pedestrians and more.

Train speed

Speeds are determined by the condition of the track and the rating it has received. Trains operate at very slow speeds through downtown Guelph. Tracks outside of Guelph are rated for a higher speed of 25 mph.

Service offerings and hours of operation

  • weekday regular service
  • Saturday/Sunday/holiday switching service
  • rush delivery service by appointment
  • freight movement services provided by Goderich-Exeter Railway (GEXR)

The Guelph Junction Railway is a 24-hour service train, however, trains rarely run after midnight. Exceptions include but are not limited to emergency maintenance, holiday overstock and winter storms. We cannot guarantee that train switching and customer siding services can be completed by a certain time of day.

Controlled and uncontrolled crossings

A controlled crossing has additional signals or signals and gates. An uncontrolled crossing uses pavement markings and stop signs as a warning system. Transport Canada regulates the type of crossing based on the speed of the train, the road speed limit, and the traffic density. Trains must sound their horn when approaching/entering a road-level crossing whether there are signals or not.

Horns and whistles

The Canadian Railway Operating Rules (CROR) mandate the use of horns and whistles, specifically “Engine whistle signals must be sounded as prescribed by this rule, and should be distinct, with intensity and duration proportionate to the distance the signal is to be conveyed.”

The horn pattern is long – long – short – long, and must be made at public crossings at grade.

The pattern is distinct and requires a combination of long and short blasts and there may be slight variations on the length of the horn blasts between the engineers. The largest discrepancy in horn length might be observed in the last horn blast of the pattern.

The train engineer can use their discretion to prolong or repeat horn blasts (i.e. cars and/or people that have not cleared the tracks)

A whistle signal must be sounded as follows:

  • exceeding 44 mph, at the whistle post
  • operating at 44 mph or less to provide 20 seconds warning prior to entering the crossing
  • the whistle signal must be prolonged or repeated until the crossing is fully occupied

Train conductors can sound the horn even if a whistle cessation applies if there is a safety concern on or near the tracks.

Guelph Junction Railway does not sound the horn in Guelph because of the whistle cession bylaw that was approved decades ago. The City of Guelph carries safety liability insurance.

Municipalities can apply for a whistle/horn cessation. This process cannot be initiated by Guelph Junction Railway. Transport Canada has more information.

Rail use

Guelph Junction Railway is used to transport industrial products such as grain, plastics, and lumber.

Community safety and regulatory compliance

Guelph Junction Railway operates safely and in compliance with Transportation Canada regulations.

Scrap railway ties

Guelph Junction Railway continues to clean up scrap railway ties found along the tracks and initiates tie replacements every year to keep the track in good working order. Since 2016, about 30,000 ties have been recycled at a plant in Quebec.


There are several locations along the GJR tracks from Campbellville to the north end of Guelph. All current customers are located within Guelph and most of the railcars that require immediate storage are in Guelph. Occasionally there is an influx of railcar traffic that requires additional storage. We use the sidings at Arkell to hold this overflow. The influx of railcar traffic occurs when Class I carriers like Canadian Pacific and Canadian National railways, who carry our freight experience delays due to natural disasters, derailments, etc. Guelph Junction Railway does not control Class I deliveries or the quantity of cars we receive at any given time.

Growth and infrastructure

Rail transportation is efficient over long hauls and is becoming more attractive compared to trucking for linking supply chains. Short line railways, like the GJR, provide the local link for long distance delivery.

Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) will be using larger rail cars with heavier loads. To accommodate this, GJR is investing in its infrastructure to handle the new larger railcars.

Ownership, management and oversight

  • The City owns Guelph Junction Railway and it is managed by Guelph Junction Railway’s board of directors.
  • Guelph Junction Railway’s volunteer board of directors provides strategic governance and direction to Guelph Junction Railway’s interim Chief Executive Officer to meet the City’s objectives for the railway.
  • A City management team, created in November 2015, provides the Guelph Junction Railway board and general manager additional support and resources for legal, financial and business development matters.
  • Guelph Junction Railway owns the land the tracks run through. This railway property is zoned heavy industrial and is unaffected by neighbouring land parcel zoning.
GJR Governance Structure

Developing around railways

The Railway Association of Canada and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities provide the following information regarding development in proximity to railways.

“Areas in proximity to railway operations are challenging settings for new development, and in particular, for residential development. It is often difficult to reconcile the expectation and concerns of residents with railway operations. For this reason, developments must be carefully planned so as not to unduly expose residents to railway activities as well as not to interfere with the continued operation of the corridor itself, or the potential for future expansion, as railways play an important economic role in society that must be safeguarded. This report strongly recommends that municipalities should take a proactive approach to identifying and planning for potential conflicts between rail operations and new developments in proximity to railway corridors. Prior to the receipt of an application for a specific project, the municipality should already have identified key sites for potential redevelopment, conversion, or future rail crossings, and will have generated site-specific policies to manage such future change.”

Maintenance and track-related concerns (24-hour contact information)

  • 24-hour emergency line: 1-844-837-5679
  • Les Petroczi, General Manager, Guelph Junction Railway: 519-766-7121
  • CN Public inquiries: 1-888-888-5909, [email protected]


Map showing location of rail lines

For more information

Les Petroczi, General Manager
Guelph Junction Railway
519-822-1260 extension 2825
[email protected]