NDP, Liberals push for rail service bill

The NDP has introduced a bill that would require the railways to negotiate service agreements with their customers.

The bill would essentially implement the provisions of the Rail Freight Service Review report, which called for a more balanced relationship between the carriers and shippers, said NDP Transport Critic Olivia Chow.

The Liberals have also been calling for the government to move on implementing the service review. Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz says legislation is coming, but Transport Minister Denis Lebel says he’s waiting for a report on efforts to get the railways and their customers to voluntarily agree on what a service agreement should include.

Chow said the railways have been vigorously lobbying against the service proposals, instead of thinking about how to improve service.

“The railways are making their best profits ever, but not sharing any gains with their customers,” she said.

Spokesmen for CN and CP said the railways have made huge improvements in service reliability during the last few years and legislation won’t improve the situation.

The legislation would require service agreements to include performance standards, consequences for non-performance including penalties, proper notification for service changes, and a requirement to use a dispute-resolution process in the event of a disagreement.

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