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10/16/2003



Rail News: M&A

Canadian legislator urges provincial transport minister to postpone BC Rail sale


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Independent liberal legislative assembly member Paul Nettleton recently called on British Columbia Minister of Transportation Judith Reid to place a six-month moratorium on the sale of BC Rail Ltd. and "seriously" consider union workers' four-month-old proposal to freeze wages for three years, eliminate a bonus plan and establish an employee/management joint committee to restore third-party passenger-rail service.

"This proposal would have saved BC Rail $150 million that could be used to build the infrastructure needed to keep BC Rail profitable," said Nettleton in a prepared statement. "My question to the Minister is: Why are you refusing to meet with workers at BC Rail who are offering this government over $150 million in savings and further flexibility?"

On Sept. 15, British Columbia's government received BC Rail takeover bids from Canadian National Railway Co., Canadian Pacific Railway and a Burlington Northern Santa Fe/OmniTRAX Inc. partnership.

Although a provincial evaluation committee had expected to choose a winning proposal by early October, British Columbia officials to date haven't released any information. Province officials plan to finalize a public/private agreement by year end or in early 2004.

The winning bidder would assume control of BC Rail's operations and management; the regional's rail beds, rights of way and track would remain provincially owned.




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