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CTA wants Canadian transport minister to answer rail subsidy questions

Canadian Pacific Railway earlier this year proposed that the Canadian government use taxpayer dollars to help fund new rail lines that could shift more freight from trucks to rail — especially along Ontario Highway 401.
Similarly, Canadian National Railway Co. in March proposed that the Canadian government adopt CN's road relief and shipper tax credit designed to lower shipper rates and annually divert 100 million tons of freight from trucks to rail.

Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) believes those Class I propositions are closer to reality than merely proposals — the organization's officials Sept. 5 reacted to rumors that the government might be strongly considering CPR's proposition by writing to Transport Minister David Collenette, asking him to end speculation by announcing the status of the railroad proposals, according to a prepared statement.

CTA officials believe CPR's proposal — which might include a $2 billion plan to subsidize rail intermodal operations — is creating confusion and concern in the transportation industry, and might derail consultations regarding Collenette's Transportation Blueprint for Canada, outlined in Canadian Transportation Act Review Panel's final report issued in July.

"In light of persistent rumors suggesting that Transport Canada is pushing for rail-friendly subsidy program, we’re left wondering whether the minister's mind is not already made up," said CTA Chief Executive Officer David Bradley, adding that Collenette owes trucking workers some assurances that their tax dollars won't be used to take away their jobs.

Bradley claims the marketplace supports trucking as the more advantageous freight mode in today's global economy, and that commercial transportation subsidies were phased out in the early 1990s.

"With these latest proposals, Canada's railways seem to have decided to try to put the taxpayer-funded gravy train back on track," he said. "We want to know if the transport minister wants to be the one driving that last spike."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/6/2001