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Promised rail freight service review begins
Published: April 7, 2008
Source: CNW
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OTTAWA The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, today announced the start of the rail freight service review by inviting comments from interested parties on the draft terms of reference for the review.

"Shippers need an effective, efficient, consistent, and reliable rail transportation supply chain to remain competitive in domestic, continental, and international markets," said Minister Cannon. "There is widespread support for this review because it will identify service problems and their impacts and make recommendations to improve Canada's rail freight logistics system."

When the government tabled proposed amendments to the shipper protection provisions of the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) on May 30, 2007, it announced its commitment to begin a review of railway service within 30 days of the Bill receiving Royal Assent and to consult with shippers and railways on the scope and terms of reference for this review. Bill C-8 received Royal Assent on February 28, 2008. Draft terms of reference have already been reviewed by the Coalition of Rail Shippers, Canadian National Railway (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), and revised, based on their feedback. Stakeholders are invited to comment by May 11, 2008. It is expected that the terms of reference will be finalized in May 2008.

The scope of the review is Canada's rail-based logistics chain (including shippers, terminal operators, ports and vessels). The review will focus on service provided to Canadian shippers and customers by CN and CPR within Canada, including to and from ports and border crossings. This is good news for shippers of a broad range of commodity groups such as agriculture; coal; fertilizers; forest products; fuel and chemicals; grain; intermodal including retail; machinery and automotive; manufactured products; and metals and minerals.

It is proposed that the review be conducted in two stages that may take 12-18 months to complete.

In the first stage (at least six months):

  • Consultants would gather and analyze data from shippers, railways and terminals, assess railway operational issues and conduct shipper surveys on railway best practices and issues; and
  • Transport Canada would assess how service issues are addressed in other transportation sectors and in regulated industries in Canada and the United States.

In the second stage (approximately six months), a panel of three eminent persons would:

  • Develop recommendations based on the results of the analytical work and any other available relevant information;
  • Consult stakeholders on the draft recommendations; and
  • Submit a final report to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

For a complete description of the review process, refer to the attached backgrounder.


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