Wednesday, 24 May 2017 15:39

Cereals Canada, AWC commends gov’t on historic rail transportation legislation

Written by  Prairie Post
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The Government of Canada introduced legislation that will move the industry towards a more accountable and reliable grains transportation system. This is good news for everyone involved — including customers.

 Minister of Transport, the Hon. Marc Garneau, supported by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Hon. Lawrence MacAulay introduced transportation legislation that will improve the industry’s ability to consistently and reliably meet customer demands.
“Cereals Canada welcomes the legislative changes to grain transportation,” stated Cam Dahl, president of Cereals Canada. “The grain, oilseed and special crops industries have been united in our call for measures that will help ensure railway accountability for performance.  The legislation ... will help correct the imbalance between the market power of the railways and captive shippers.”
The legislation includes the following key elements:
• tools that will allow shippers to hold railways financially accountable for their service performance;
• improved processes through the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA);
• clarification of railway responsibility in the Canada Transportation Act by better defining adequate and suitable service;
• permanent access to long-haul interswitching options (vs. temporary extended interswitching); and
• increased requirements for reporting and railway contingency planning.
The Alberta Wheat Commission (AWC) is pleased to see the focus on provisions aimed at improving railway accountability including the ability of shippers to seek reciprocal financial penalties, better definition of adequate and suitable service and enhanced interswitching — all measures that AWC has pressed for. 
“We appreciate that the Government of Canada has taken steps that will address longstanding transportation issues faced by farmers,” said Kevin Auch, AWC chair. “Better rail service will in-turn strengthen our ability to build competitive advantage in the international marketplace. It reassures our global customers that our government places a high priority on a robust export environment.”
AWC will be seeking further clarity on specific provisions of the legislation and how they will be implemented including Long-Haul Interswitching which is intended to provide relief to captive shippers. Other provisions of Bill C-49 will enhance inquiry powers of the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) and require more publicly available data on rail system performance.
Oilseed Processors also complimented the Government of Canada on new legislation that will create a more reliable and efficient rail transportation system.
One of the most important amendments in the new legislation will grant shippers the ability to negotiate reciprocal penalties into Service Level Agreements.
Bill C-49 introduces a new provision, Long-Haul Interswitching, intended to give all of Canada’s captive shippers access to competing railways.
COPA will be studying the new long-haul interswitching provision in the coming weeks.

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