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4/10/2002



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Ferroequus fends off Canadian Class Is' running-rights objections


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Ferroequus Railway Company Ltd. April 9 "dismissed" Canadian National Railway Co.'s and Canadian Pacific Railway's objections to its amended running rights proposal, which for the third time is under consideration by Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).
The railway is seeking running rights on CN track from North Battleford, Saskatchewan, to Prince Rupert, British Columbia, as well as access to CPR's track.
"If Ferroequus is successful, the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) will pay less to get their product to port," said FE President Tom Payne in a prepared statement. "Competition is the cornerstone of business efficiency and it simply doesn't exist in the transportation of prairie grain by rail in Canada."
CWB advocates increased running-rights provisions under Canada Transportation Act, and is Port of Prince Rupert's principal shipper, said Payne, adding that CWB's core objective is ensuring that western Canadian grain producers receive a reasonable level of rail service at affordable rates.
"CN stands to gain millions in track-access fees if Ferroequus is successful in its application," he said. "Their opposition to the application seems to be primarily about maintaining their monopoly power rather than serving the public interest."
CN officials, who in an April 5 statement said Ferroequus' amended application is "an abuse of process," plan to appeal CTA's recent decision to Canada's Federal Court of Appeal on the grounds that "CTA lacks jurisdiction" to proceed with an amended application.
CN officials believe "forced access" would threaten the survival of low-density sections of its network, undermine the Class I's future rail investment and potentially require taxpayers to again subsidize Canadian railways.
CTA plans April 29 to hold a public hearing in Winnipeg, Manitoba, regarding Ferroequus' amended application.


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