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Transportation act-amending bill to become law in Canada


While U.S. rail shippers continue to seek regulatory relief through several "re-regulation" bills that are being debated in Congress, Canadian shippers are about to have that relief in hand.

On Friday, Canadian Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Lawrence Cannon announced a bill proposing to amend the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) had received Royal Assent — meaning the legislation completed all parliamentary stages and obtained top government approval to become law.

The amendments clarify and strengthen the act's provisions to address shippers' concerns about rail service and rates, and provide railroads regulatory stability to encourage necessary investments to keep Canadian exporters and importers competitive in international markets, said Cannon in a prepared statement.

The amendments:
• remove a requirement that the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) be satisfied a shipper would suffer "substantial commercial harm" before granting a remedy;
• provide final offer arbitration to groups of shippers on rate issues or conditions for moving freight in certain circumstances;
• allow the suspension of any final offer arbitration process if both parties agree to pursue mediation;
• extend the notice period for rate increases from 20 days to 30 days;
• require railroads to publish a list of sidings available for grain car loadings and provide 60 days notice before removing such sidings; and
• ensure abandonment and transfer provisions apply to lines that are transferred to provincial short lines and subsequently revert to a federal railway.

"The amendments balance the needs of both parties and set a clear course for our rail transportation system to meet the economic challenges of the future," said Cannon.

The Canadian government plans to honor a previous commitment to review rail service within 30 days of the bill receiving Royal Assent. The government will announce details of the review in the coming weeks, Cannon said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/3/2008