Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Canadian shippers await promised service law

Written by  Luther S. Miller, Senior Consulting Editor

Canada's Coalition of Rail Shippers (CRS) issued a statement Monday applauding the Minister of Transport, Denis Lebel, for reconfirming his commitment to "introduce a bill which would give shippers the right to service agreements with the railways and provide a process to establish such an agreement should commercial negotiations fail."

The shipper statement followed one by Canadian National that sharply criticized shipper interests for insisting on regulation to ensure good service for railroad customers.

Both statements referred to an effort overseen by government-appointed facilitator Jim Dinning to bring the parties to agreement.

"The CRS appreciates the efforts of Mr. Dinning in leading the face-to-face meetings between the railways and a diverse range of railway customers over a five month period," said Bob Ballantyne, chair of the CRS. "From our perspective, the government did the right thing in establishing the facilitation process. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of Mr. Dinning and his team, this process failed to deliver."

Ballantyne noted that a government Rail Freight Service Review report 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 stakeholders."