Net income was also up from $C 2.1bn, or $C 4.48 per diluted share in 2010, to $C 2.46bn, or $C 5.41, last year.

CN says sales of the Lakeshore East segment of its Kingston subsidiary for $C 254m, and assets worth $C 38m at IC RailMarine Terminal Company boosted results.

CN plans to invest $C 1.75bn in 2012 with more than $C 1bn allocated for infrastructure, including replacement of rails and sleepers, and bridge improvements. The plan also includes provisions for investments in the Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway in the United States which CN acquired in 2009, extending loops on its Edmonton - Prince Rupert, British Columbia, corridor, and installing longer passing loops in northern Ontario.

CN will spend $C 150m on new locomotives and wagons during the year and $C 500m on information technology to improve and enhance productivity.