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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

British Columbia prepares RFP seeking input on restructuring BC Rail's freight operations


In February, Canada's minister of transportation announced that British Columbia would begin a process to seek private-investor involvement in improving freight-rail service for provincial communities and customers.

The minister appointed an evaluation committee to assist the province in requesting and evaluating proposals for restructuring BC Rail Ltd.'s freight-rail operations.

Now, the province is closer to seeking proposals for BC Rail's restructuring from qualified private-sector parties through a request-for-proposals process.

Proposals would address shippers' concerns on competitive service, rates and access to markets and interline carriers of their choice; a plan for dealing with key stakeholder groups, such as employees and communities; and determine a range value for the 1,400-mile regional based on a proposed transaction structure.

The province plans to obtain input from shippers' and mayors' councils May 5, then issue final comments to the evaluation committee on a draft RFP, which would require final approval from the Canadian government.

BC Rail should focus on its commercial mandate as an industrial freight railway because the province cannot afford to provide BC Rail any grants or direct operating subsidies, or forgive any existing or support additional debt, province officials said in a prepared statement.

So far, BC Rail has ceased trailer-on-flatcar services and all passenger-rail services (except the D’Arcy-to-Lillooet corridor), and is exploring opportunities to achieve more efficient operations on its low-density northern branch lines. The regional also plans to divest its Finlay Navigation interest by mid-year.

The government plans to retain ownership of all land related to the railway's operations, including rights of way and track infrastructure, and enter a long-term agreement for the railway's operating land and track with a private-sector partner that would operate the freight-rail business.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/24/2003