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5/31/2007



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Transport minister proposes freight-rail amendments to Canada's transportation act



Canadian Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities Lawrence Cannon recently introduced amendments to freight-rail provisions in the Canada Transportation Act that would address shippers’ concerns about railroads’ service and rates, and provide regulatory stability to encourage railroads to invest in infrastructure.

The proposed amendments would:
• no longer require the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) to determine that a shipper would suffer “substantial commercial harm” before granting a remedy;
• extend final offer arbitration to groups of shippers on matters pertaining to rates or movement conditions;
• allow both parties to suspend the final offer arbitration process if they consent to mediation;
• permit the CTA to investigate charges and conditions for incidental services, and establish new charges or terms and conditions;
• extend the notice period for rate increases from 20 days to 30;
• require railroads to publish a list of sidings available for grain producers’ loadings and provide 60 days notice before removing such sidings from operation; and
• ensure that abandonment and transfer provisions apply to lines that are transferred to provincially controlled short lines.

“I made a commitment that these amendments would be introduced after working with shippers and railways to develop possible commercial solutions for resolving disputes,” said Cannon in a prepared statement.

The Canadian government plans to review rail service within 30 days after the amendments are passed. Government officials would consult with shippers and railroads on the review’s scope and terms.


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