Harper Government's new legislation in place to strengthen rail freight service

OTTAWA, June 26, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, announced today that the new Fair Rail Freight Service Act is now law.

The bill received Royal Assent earlier today.

"Our Government is proud to have taken concrete action to strengthen our economy by passing legislation that will improve the predictability, clarity and reliability of rail freight service across Canada," said Minister Lebel. "We have delivered the promise we made after receiving recommendations from the Rail Freight Service Review's Panel of experts."

Rail companies in Canada will now be required to offer a service agreement to companies shipping goods by rail, if the shipper requests one.  In the event that rail companies and shippers cannot reach an agreement through commercial negotiations, shippers can use the new arbitration process created by this bill to establish the terms of service to which they are entitled.

The goal of the legislation is to encourage railways and shippers to work together. Through enhanced collaboration, shippers and railways can increase the efficiency of the supply chain. The Act will help strengthen the Canadian economy by creating jobs and make Canada more competitive in international trade.

This new arbitration process will operate under the Canadian Transportation Agency. For each violation of an arbitrated service agreement, a penalty of up to $100,000 could be issued against the rail company by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

This new legislation follows the Government of Canada's tabling of the Fair Rail Freight Service Act last December.  It fulfills a key commitment, announced in 2011, as part of the Government's response to the Rail Freight Service Review's Final Report.

Further details about the Fair Rail Freight Service Act can be found at:
http://www.tc.gc.ca/eng/policy/acg-acgb-menu.htm

An online version of the Fair Rail Freight Service Act can be found at:
http://lois-laws.justice.gc.ca/eng/index.html


Backgrounder


VIEWS OF CANADA'S INDUSTRY ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE FAIR RAIL FREIGHT SERVICE ACT

Canadian Propane Association
Jim Facette, President and CEO
"The new legislation respects the commercial nature of the relationship between the railway carrier and the propane shipper, but also addresses the recommendations of the Rail Freight Service Review Panel."

Grain Growers of Canada
Stephen Vandervalk, President
"We especially thank Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, Transportation Minister Denis Lebel and the federal government for listening to farmers and moving this legislation ahead."

Forest Products Association of Canada
David Lindsay, President and CEO
"Ensuring a fair and balanced relationship between shippers and the railways will help the forest products industry retain and create jobs for the benefit of the entire Canadian economy."

Pulse Canada
Greg Cherewyk, Executive Director
"Over the past year cost cutting and the pursuit of operational efficiencies have taken the headlines. This announcement puts customer service back in the spotlight. Improvements in service are key to Canadian businesses that depend on railways to help meet their customers' needs."

Canadian Fertilizer Industry
Roger Larson, President
"The federal government has taken an important step towards balancing the commercial relationships between railways and their freight customers. Fertilizer companies have commitments to their customers not only in Canada, but the United States and around the world. As this Bill is implemented, CFI will be monitoring its effectiveness in providing real change to the service problems that brought about the Rail Service Review in the first place."

SOURCE: Transport Canada

For further information:

Marie-Josée Paquette
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Denis Lebel
Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
Ottawa
613-991-0700

Media Relations
Transport Canada, Ottawa
613-993-0055

Transport Canada is online at www.tc.gc.ca. Subscribe to e-news or stay connected through RSSTwitterFacebookYouTube and Flickr to keep up to date on the latest from Transport Canada.

This news release may be made available in alternative formats for persons living with visual disabilities.


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