Railway tool services

The Railway Tool has 2 functions, available with an access granted:

  • The search function allows the secure database of railway documents to be searched
  • The deposit function allows railway documents to be deposited with the Registrar General of Canada.

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Railway database

The database contains the railway documents that have been deposited with the Registrar General of Canada under sections 104 and 105 of the Canada Transportation Act (CTA). Records date back to 1868, and they are kept permanently. Documents are not removed from the database, even if:

  • a letter of transmittal or a deposited document expressly indicates that the document has a fixed term
  • a discharge or release of a deposited document is subsequently filed
  • a request is made by the person who originally deposited the document.

Search for railway documents

You can search railway documents for free, based on text in the railway documents, document date or deposit date. Searches are conducted by interested parties and not by the Registrar's staff.

Tips for searching railway documents

When conducting a search, there are a few things that should be considered.

Search by language

The documents being searched have been provided by external sources and are therefore generally unilingual. If searching by type of document, such as mortgage or hypothec, you may want to search using terms in both languages.

Optical character recognition

The documents provided to Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada by external sources vary in quality. Depositing a low quality document may result in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) errors (such as an extra space within a word). This may make it difficult for the search engine to retrieve your document. Instead of searching by railcar number, we recommend that you enter the document title, document number, or document parties in the Enter search term field.

Incompatible schedules

Schedules (also known as exhibits) attached to railway documents are often not OCR compatible. As a result, information included in these schedules (such as railcar number, equipment ID or build year) will not be retrieved by the search engine. For example, if you are using a railcar number to search for a lease agreement and that railcar number appears in the schedule, but not in the body of the lease agreement, the search engine will not return any result. To overcome this issue, we recommend that you enter the document title, document number or document parties in the Enter search term field.

Additional search options

We recommend using the document title, document number and document parties as search terms. If you click on Additional search options and enter each of the above search terms in its own field, you will be searching for all three terms simultaneously. To maximize your results, we also recommend selecting All including the document text from the Select a search field drop-down menu.

Search by predecessor companies or former corporate names

The documents in the database have not been amended since deposited. For example, they do not reflect: subsequent amalgamations of railway companies; other transactions involving successors in title; or any changes of corporate name of the parties to a document. When conducting searches, you may want to search for predecessor companies or former corporate names.

Built-in calendar

If you use the built-in calendar to select a date in the Date from or Date to fields, you will note that the drop-down menu covers only 10 years at a time. If you need to select an earlier date, choose the earliest year in the list (for ex., in the range 2003-2013, choose 2003), then re-open the menu and continue until you find the year you are looking for. The years go back to 1868.

Search by date

If you enter a date in the Date from field and leave the Date to field blank, the system will assume that you entered today's date in the Date to field. If you want to do a search for a specific date, you must enter the same date in both the Date from and Date to fields (for ex., from March 30, 2018 to March 31, 2018).

Text search

  • Select the type of text search from the drop-down menu. Your options are:
    • All – searches all document fields as well as the text version of the document
    • Document number – searches for a specific document number
    • Document title – searches document titles
    • Legislative reference – searches specific legislative references
    • Document parties – searches listed document parties
  • Enter the text you wish to search for in the search text field
  • If you want to enter additional search criteria, such as a date range or additional text, click on Additional search options
  • If you have entered all your search criteria, click on Search
  • If you want to modify your search criteria before searching, click on Clear.

Date search

  • Select a search operator (and, or, but not) to indicate whether the date range is being added to the text search
  • Select a date type (deposit date or document date)
  • Enter a range of dates to search
  • If you want to enter additional search criteria, such as one or more text fields, click on Additional search options
  • If you have entered all your search criteria, click Search
  • If you want to modify your search criteria before searching, click Clear.

Search results

You can filter the search results with the following:

  • Hide descriptions – Removes the text description of the document.
  • Show highlighted terms – Bolds the search terms in the document description.
  • Title of the document – Takes you to a page with the document details.
  • Text – Shows the optical character recognition version of the document.
  • PDF – Shows the scanned image of the document.

Deposit railway documents

Railway documents can be deposited with Corporations Canada under sections 104 and 105 of the Canada Transportation Act using the deposit function of the Railway Tool:

  • Section 104 allows for the deposit of mortgages and hypothecs.
  • Section 105 of the CTA allows for the deposit of certain contracts respecting rolling stock.

While the intent of sections 104 and 105 of the CTA is to provide public notice of the interests contained in the documents deposited, the Registrar does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the deposit system or the documents. In accessing the deposit system, you agree that the use of the system is at your own risk. Whether considering to deposit a document or to search for a railway document, you may wish to consult with legal counsel or other professional advisers to understand the issues as they apply to your particular situation.


Documents must be in optical character readable (OCR) PDF.

  • For section 104 – the document must be the full text.
  • For section 105 – the document must be the full text or a summary (also referred to as a memorandum).

There are no requirements concerning the contents of documents. However, before accepting a document, Corporations Canada will review it to ensure that:

  • the document is being deposited under the appropriate section of the CTA
  • the document has been signed by all parties and the name of each person signing appears in print form
  • the effective date of the document is clearly stated in the document; Corporations Canada will not fill in the date if it is left blank
  • for secondary documents, the annexes or collateral listed in the document are the same as those listed in the primary document.

A document that does not meet these requirements will be considered deficient and returned without being deposited.


  • A primary document is the first of a series of documents involved in a transaction or a relationship.
  • A secondary document is a document that is related to the primary document, either because it is part of the same transaction or because it is an amendment, assignment, release or discharge of the primary document.
  • The Railway Tool only allows a single primary document and its related secondary documents to be part of a railway submission. Each primary document requires a separate submission.

Submit documents for deposit

  1. After signing in, use the Railway Tool Dashboard.
  2. Confirm the contact name and email address. You can modify this information if you want all correspondence related to this submission to go to a different person or address.

    Indicate whether the submission includes a primary document. If you only intend to deposit a secondary document, indicate the document number of the primary document related to this submission. If you do not know the document number, use the search function of the Railway Tool.

  3. For both primary and secondary documents, you will be asked to enter details about the document:
    1. Document title – the name given to the document being deposited
    2. Document date – the effective date of the document
    3. Legislative reference – the section of the Canada Transportation Act under which the document is being deposited
    4. Document parties – list all the parties who have signed or are listed in the document; after adding each name press the Add button until all document parties are added.

    Attach the PDF document to the submission by pressing the Browse button. Remember that only PDF files that are optical character readable (OCR) will be accepted. If your PDF is not OCR, the Railway Tool will not let you continue and will display an error message.

  4. Review your railway submission before proceeding to checkout. If you have another document that is part of this submission, add it. All secondary documents submitted at this stage must relate to the primary document being submitted or indicated.

    Once all secondary documents have been added, the Railway Tool will ask you to confirm the submission before proceeding to checkout.

  5. Checkout and pay the fee. You will receive an acknowledgement, which includes the document title and number.

Documents received

A document is considered to be received at the date and time Corporations Canada receives the document. The Railway Tool will automatically add the date and time when the document is received for deposit.

Documents accepted

Corporations Canada will send a Notice of Acceptance once the document submitted for deposit has been accepted. The notice will include:

  • the date and time the document was deposited
  • the document title and number

Any errors in the contents of the Notice of Acceptance should be immediately brought to the attention of Corporations Canada (see Contact us).

Deficient document

Corporations Canada will not pre-approve or review a document before it is submitted. After receiving and reviewing the document, Corporations Canada will either

  • accept the document for deposit and issue the Notice of Acceptance


  • return the document as deficient.

If deficient, Corporations Canada will return the document to you. The document will be issued a new submission date and time once it is resubmitted and will receive a deposit date when approved. All Corporations Canada decisions in this regard are final.

Frequently asked questions

The following questions cover sections 104 and 105 of the Canada Transportation Act (CTA). Note that Corporations Canada does not express any legal opinions or offer any definitive interpretations in respect of that legislation.

Does the deposit of a document under section 104 or section 105 of the CTA ensure the validity of such a document under the relevant section?

By accepting a deposit under section 104 or section 105 of the CTA, Corporations Canada does not provide any opinion on the substantive validity of such document. As a result, acceptance by Corporations Canada of a document pursuant to section 104 of the CTA does not ensure that it is a mortgage or hypothec for the purposes of the statute. Similarly, acceptance of a deposit under section 105 of the CTA does not ensure that the instrument evidences a lease, sale, conditional sale, mortgage, hypothec, bailment or security agreement relating to rolling stock.

What is the difference between a section 104 filing and a section 105 filing under the CTA?

Section 104 of the CTA allows for the deposit of mortgages, hypothecs or other related documents. By contrast, section 105 of the CTA refers not to a document but to a type of transaction, namely a lease, sale, conditional sale, mortgage, hypothec, bailment or security agreement relating to rolling stock.

Does deposit under section 104 or section 105 of the CTA, as the case may be, alleviate the need for provincial registration?

Deposit pursuant to section 104 of the CTA and section 105 of the CTA, as the case may be, appears to make registration at the provincial level unnecessary 1. The language of both seems to obviate the need for provincial filing. Filing exclusively at the federal level is entirely at the discretion of the user.

Footnote 1 Consider the comments in The Canadian Railway Act, 1919 by Angus MacMurchy and John Spence (Toronto: Canada Law Book Company, Limited, 1922) at p. 160:

"This [section 138, now embodied in section 104 of the CTA] and the preceding section [now also part of section 104 of the CTA] are no doubt intended to provide a uniform method of registration for all mortgages of the real or personal property of railways which are subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Government in place of the diverse laws upon that subject which exist in each of the provinces."

Does deposit under section 104 or 105 of the CTA establish a system of priorities?

Corporations Canada is unable to express any legal opinion on this point.

If a document is registered pursuant to the U.S. Interstate Commerce Act, does it also have to be filed under section 105 of the CTA?

Yes. Section 11301 of Title 49 of the United States Code (formerly section 20c of the Interstate Commerce Act) is the American equivalent of section 105 of the CTA. Corporations Canada understands that the American statute gives effect to deposits made under the CTA, but the CTA does not have a reciprocal provision. Corporations Canada is, however, mindful of the provisions for filing under the American system, and Corporations Canada's procedures permit the deposit of memoranda and summaries consistent with practice under that system.

What does the definition of rolling stock include?

Rolling stock is defined in section 6 of the CTA: "rolling stock" includes a locomotive, engine, motor car, tender snow plough, flanger and any car or railway equipment that is designed for movement on its wheels on the rails of a railway.

For the purposes of a section 105 filing under the CTA, Corporations Canada points out the additional words "or any accessories or appurtenances" related in the section following the reference to rolling stock.

Does an index system exist in respect of section 105 of the CTA deposits similar to that maintained by the Surface Transportation Board in the United States?

The database does not provide an index such as exists pursuant to the U.S. Interstate Commerce Act. Documents are simply scanned into the system and searching is conducted based on fields. Documents, including primary documents and secondary documents, are not cross-referenced even if they are filed as a "batch" on the same day. Letters of transmittal are not scanned into the database.

Does the depositor have to publish a notice of deposit in the Canada Gazette for the deposit to be effective?

Following amendments to the CTA that came into force June 22, 2007, a notice in the Canada Gazette is no longer required.

Will Corporations Canada, on request, provide a letter or report to provincial land registry authorities in respect of outstanding registrations under section 104 of the CTA?

Corporations Canada staff will not conduct any searches, subsearches or file enquiries and, as a result, is unable to provide any information, whether certified or uncertified, to provincial real or personal property registries or any other person.

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