CN was established by the Canadian federal government in 1919 and was then privatized by the government on November 17, 1995. In adopting the official slogan "North America's Railroad", the company has since its inception grown to become one of the largest North American railroad. In 2018, CN generated total revenue of just over 14 billion Canadian dollars and, for that same year, the company reported about 8.8 billion Canadian dollars in operating expenditures. The company records over 490 billion in gross ton-miles annually and the number of employees in the services of CN amounted to over an estimated 25,400 in 2018.
The company formerly operated a mix of freight and passenger services until the late 1970s but is now primarily a freight railway. The company’s rail freight revenue amounted to around 13.5 billion Canadian dollars in 2018. CN operates a supply-chain model that offers integrated shipping solutions which include rail, intermodal, trucking, freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution. Intermodal accounts for the largest part of CN’s freight revenue by commodity group.