Court Overturns Shipper Complaint Against CN

Canadian National Railway (CN) did not breach its level-of-service obligations to the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) and four other grain companies in the 2007- 08 crop year the Federal Appeal Court said in its ruling Sept. 9.

Although the ruling overturns the Canadian Transportation Agency’s (CTA) decision in favour of the complaint

launched in 2008 by the CWB, North East Terminal Ltd., Parrish &Heimbecker Ltd., Paterson Grain, Providence Grain Group Inc. and North West Terminal Ltd., the CWB isn’t concerned because CN’s grain-shipping service is much improved today.

“The whole process (of going to the CTA) has been very useful because it has really put a focus on (rail) service,” said CWB spokesman John Lyons. “Since then we’ve been able to work with CN to resolve many service issues.CN has changed its system of car allocations and things are just working much better.”

The CWB and grain companies alleged CN failed to fulfil its statutory “level-of-service” obligation for grain shipped in the 2007-08 crop year. The CTA, a quasi-judicial agency, agreed.

“CN seriously failed to meet stated general car allocation needs,” a CTA decision issued in January 2008 stated in part. “The records in this respect point to a chronic service failure…. The agency finds that over this period, CN breached its statutory service obligations.”

However, the CTA said it wanted more data before making a final ruling. In September 2008 the CTA ruled CN was in breach of its level-of- service obligations to the CWB and the complainant companies with the exception of Providence.

The CTA ordered CN to provide those shippers with a level of service as set out in established service performance benchmarks.

The Federal Appeal Court overturned the CTA’s ruling and the CTA formally dismissed the level-of-service complaint against CN Oct. 29. [email protected]

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Sincethenwe’ve beenabletoworkwith CNtoresolvemany service issues.CN has changeditssystem ofcarallocations andthingsarejust workingmuchbetter.”

– John Lyons

About the author

Reporter

Allan Dawson

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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