A century after its completion, the Crowsnest route is still important to the economy of British Columbia although its form and function has changed dramatically. A resurgence of coal mining in the late 1960s prompted a major redevelopment of the railway north to Golden to permit the operation of huge unit coal trains from new mines in the Crowsnest.

Early mining communities such as Natal and Michel have all but disappeared and Sparwood and Fernie have become the centres for new homes and commercial development. To the west, rail service to the Boundary District was abandoned in the 1980s and ore mining has slowly declined in importance.