MONTREAL, June 28, 2012 /CNW/ - The Coalition of Rail Shippers (CRS) has
presented the federal government with suggested principles to revise
the Canada Transportation Act to improve rail freight service in
Canada. The principles are contained in a letter delivered to the
Minister of Transport, Denis Lebel. They were also handed out
yesterday to the Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz, after a meeting
between the Minister and members of the CRS in Montreal.
The move follows last week's release of the Dinning report after his
facilitation process failed to bridge the gap between rail customers
and the railways. At that time, the government again pledged to bring
in legislation this fall to give shippers the right to service
agreements with the railways and a process to establish such agreements
should commercial negotiations fail.
"The government has asked stakeholders to engage in the process and rail
shippers are keen to do so," said the Chair of the CRS, Bob
Ballantyne. "We are proposing measures that will address the imbalance
in market power enjoyed by the railways. It is critical that the
proposed legislation succeed in establishing a climate where normal
commercial negotiations can take place."
The CRS principles include services and obligations, communication
protocols, performance standards and consequences for non-performance.
Railway customers, big and small, spend several billion dollars on rail
freight services each year. Many resource-based rail customers are
captive to the virtual monopoly power enjoyed by the railways. This
unacceptable imbalance of power has led to inadequate service which
impacts the competitiveness of Canadian businesses and their ability to
serve export markets. The Federal Government's Rail Freight Service Review report, tabled in March 2011, stated that: "the major cause of rail
service problems is railway market power, which leads to an imbalance
in the commercial relationships between the railways and other
"Shippers look forward to working with government officials over the
summer on this legislation to redress that imbalance," said
Ballantyne. "Our goal is to have legislation that will level the
playing field between customers and railways for the benefit of job
creation and economic growth for all of Canada.
The Coalition of Rail Shippers represents 18 industry associations that
support about two million jobs. Members provide 80% of the revenue of
Canadian National and Canadian Pacific railways.
SOURCE COALITION OF RAIL SHIPPERS
For further information:
Chair, Coalition of Rail Shippers
(613) 599-8993 ext. 223