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Canadian railway association, labor union sound off on Collenette's 'Straight Ahead' blueprint


To an extent, Railway Association of Canada (RAC) supports the overall direction of Canadian Transport Minister David Collenette's "Straight Ahead - A Vision for Transportation in Canada," which provides a policy framework and principles designed as the country's transportation blueprint.

"Our members are encouraged by the document's assessment of the challenges facing transportation, the need for Canada to find multi-modal solutions to these problems and address public interest imperatives relating to climate change and other needs," said RAC President and Chief Executive Officer Bill Rowat in a prepared statement. "However, [they're] very concerned about signs of re-regulatory measures being proposed."

RAC members are relieved the blueprint doesn't propose regulated open access to their track by competitors, but question why the document doesn't address problems in Canada's grain handling and transportation system, said Rowat.

"[Members are] constrained by historical regulation in the grain-transportation system," he said. "Going forward, mutual success will require a reasonable balance between policies and regulation that will allow rail to participate to its full potential."

Meanwhile, a United Transportation Union official is disappointed that the blueprint doesn't address rail safety.

"The timing of its release suggests a smoke-and-mirrors operation," said Tim Secord, Canadian legislative director for UTU, which represents 8,500 Canadian rail and bus workers. "The only thing this vision will achieve is to take some heat off the Minister for having nothing to say about safety to railway workers."

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More News from 2/26/2003