OTTAWA, Dec. 20 /CNW/ - Two major acquisitions, the launch of an
innovative intermodal service and a deal to streamline the movement of freight
cars were major milestones for Canada's railway industry in 2007.
As well, VIA Rail got the green light to proceed with a program to
modernize a large chunk of its locomotive and passenger car fleet. The railway
industry and the federal government agreed on further reductions in locomotive
emissions, and on enhancements in rail freight and passenger security.
Cliff Mackay, President and CEO of the 58-member Railway Association of
Canada, said CN and CP continued to post strong earnings despite a jerky North
American economy. They used their healthy status to reinvest in their
businesses and to improve and expand customer service by buying significant
railway lines in the United States, he said. Both acquisitions have yet to
receive final approval from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board.
After years of work and planning, the new Fairview intermodal terminal in
Prince Rupert opened this fall and within 92 hours of the inaugural ship
arriving, CN delivered a load of containers from it to Chicago. CN and its
partners in the terminal development are trying to attract more shipping lines
to the port.
In conjunction with this service, CN opened a new Intermodal Terminal and
Distribution Centre in Prince George for companies looking for new import and
export opportunities. It was just one of a string of new facilities that
CN WorldWide North America is building in Canada and the United States.
VIA Rail Canada will receive an additional $691 million from the federal
government during the next five years to rebuild the 20-year-old mainstay of
its locomotive fleet as well as 98 sleek LRC passenger coaches that are widely
used in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor. It will also be making some track
and station improvements.
VIA has already completed a demonstration rebuild of a locomotive and
passenger car and is looking forward to adding new services as more of the
rebuilds become available during the next few years.
Commuter rail is blossoming. GO, for example, is expanding service,
taking delivery of new locomotives, and signing agreements to help carry an
additional 40,000 passengers a day by 2011 over the 165,000 a day it now
accommodates. The work is part of a $1.2 billion program to improve public
transit in the Greater Toronto Area. Include commuter rail services in
Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver and you are looking at annual traffic of more
than 60 million riders.
The new freight car routing protocol announced late in the year by CN and
CP will save both railways a million car miles a year by reducing the length
of their time in transit and avoiding marshalling yards wherever possible.
The protocol mainly affects general merchandise trains that consist of a
variety of freight car types or about 10 per cent of the traffic and will
produce some changes in the railways' operations. Fourteen gateways,
principally Montreal (St-Luc), Milwaukee, and Winnipeg (Paddington), will
experience an increase in volume of interline traffic. Fifteen gateways,
including Chicago, Minneapolis, Superior, Wis., Calgary and several southern
Ontario locations, will see lesser volumes.
The new emissions agreement commits the railways to introducing more fuel
efficient locomotives to their fleets as the government moves toward full
regulation of air emissions and greenhouse gases by the industry in 2011. The
agreement was signed by Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon, Environment
Minister John Baird and the RAC's Mr. Mackay.
The railways transport 65 per cent of surface freight and 65 million
passengers but generate only three per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. The
agreement "is a first step in a broader plan to reduce air pollution from
railway operations consistent with the requirements of the world-leading
standards of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and is part of
the government's commitment to a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
by 2020." The railways will prepare action plans for reducing emissions and
upgrade older locomotives to EPA standards.
RAC and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities signed a new two-year
agreement to work together to improve communications between the communities
and railways and to implement guidelines and best-practice benchmarks to
resolve disputes between the 1,600 member municipalities of the FCM and the
railway industry. New federal legislation (C-11) was passed dealing with noise
and vibration that will help all parties improve relationships.
The RAC established a new category during the year of associate members
for suppliers and industrial rail operators. And Canada, Quebec and the short
lines signed an agreement in 2007 to invest $75 million dollars in
strengthening their infrastructure to help reduce road congestion, pollution
For further information:
For further information: Media Contact: Roger Cameron, Railway
Association of Canada, (613) 564-8097, firstname.lastname@example.org