Aprivate member s bill aimed at saving railway sidings so farmers can use them to load producer cars was introduced in the House of Commons Sept. 21.
I think this has pretty broad support among those people who represent rural constituencies, says Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, who is behind bill C-28, an act to amend the Canada Transportation Act (discontinuance of listed sidings).
While the federal government has not endorsed the bill, Goodale said some Conservative backbenchers have said the bill is a good idea.
During the last 10 years the number of rail sidings has dropped to 300 from 700, while the number of producer cars shipped annually increased by almost fourfold to 12,000, Goodale said.
Farmers have had the right to bypass elevators and load their grain into railway cars themselves for more than 100 years.
But the right to load your own cars doesn t mean much if there are no sidings from which to load it, Goodale said.
Right now railways only have to give the Canadian Transportation Agency 60 days notice before tearing up a siding. Goodale s legislation proposes three years notice the same time required before a branch line can be abandoned.
C-281 also proposes a public hearing before the agency where the onus would be on the railways to justify the abandonment. The bill also would allow farmers or municipalities to buy sidings before being abandoned.
If a siding was abandoned the railways would be required to compensate the affected municipality based on the same formula of $10,000 per mile used now for branch line abandonments.
Goodale introduced similar legislation last year but it was far down the list of private member s bills to be debated. With a new Parliament, Goodale said his new bill could be debated before Christmas or early in the new year.
The railways have said unused sidings are costly to keep. But Goodale said farmers ultimately pay through the fees the railways charge for hauling grain. [email protected]
Buttherightto loadyourown carsdoesn tmean muchifthereare nosidingsfrom whichtoloadit.