For years, Canadians have heard a common refrain: If a new pipeline doesn’t materialize to get their oil to market, the oil will just travel a different way — by rail.

It’s a trade-off that can inspire fear in a country where an oil-by-rail disaster killed 47 people just five years ago. Environmentalists have sometimes described the rail option as a threat or “boogeyman” looming over the pipeline debate.

But now the prediction appears to be coming true, as the volume of oil traveling by rail out of Canada — to the United States — has surged in the past few months as the country’s latest pipeline project foundered.

The problems around the Trans Mountain pipeline project have led to increasing pessimism among oil producers and an increasing willingness to invest in rail capacity. That means Canadians are preparing for even higher oil-by-rail volumes over the next few years while sorting out how their fears stack up against reality…(Read the full story)