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Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Canada needs to consider mounting transportation capacity crunch, CPR's Ritchie says


Canada needs a long-term strategy to address transportation capacity constraints, said Canadian Pacific Railway President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Ritchie during a Dec. 5 speech at the Toronto Railway Club.

Ritchie called on federal, provincial and civic leaders to develop a "new, collective vision" for an efficient, integrated and sustainable transportation infrastructure designed to support Canada's economy. He also suggested leaders build a seamless transportation network encompassing ports, highways, and freight and commuter railroads.

"We need this to strengthen the nation's competitiveness in an increasingly competitive world," Ritchie said, according to a prepared statement. "We as a nation have to ask our policy makers, 'Must we wait until we get to a serious crisis point and capacity crunch in our transportation infrastructure before we address the problem?'"

Ritchie suggested Canadian policy makers nurture and encourage railways as a "strategic national asset."

"A strong Canadian rail industry is part of the solution to many large policy issues, such as the quality of life in urban centers, and border security and efficiency," he said.

Railroads need to maximize their ability to reinvest in infrastructure to accommodate future growth, requiring changes to regulations, taxation and public policy. Canada's rail system is being constrained by "punitive" taxation and "outdated" regulation, Ritchie said.

Canada also should make more public investments in the nation's rail infrastructure through public-private partnerships, he believes.

"We would improve the efficiency of the trucking industry, and solve some of the traffic congestion and pollution problems in Montreal and Toronto," said Ritchie. "We [also] would … provide VIA Rail an opportunity to expand high-speed intercity passenger-rail service."

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More News from 12/8/2003