Rail bill still coming, minister insists

Transport Minister Denis Lebel says long-promised legislation to balance the market power of the railways and their customers will be introduced this fall.

Shippers have expressed concern that a deputy minister shuffle will delay the legislation until next year, when it could be sidelined by a rail costing review already scheduled for 2013. They’re pushing for legislation based on the findings of a rail service freight review launched in 2008 that advocated service guarantees, a dispute-settlement mechanism, and financial penalties if the railways failed to meet performance standards. The railways said that would be an unnecessary regulatory burden.

Last month, shipper organizations representing the major resource sectors such as forestry, fertilizers, mining and agriculture called again on the government “to address inefficient and inadequate rail freight service.”

They met ministers and MPs, but came away no wiser about the government’s plans.

Western farm groups have been among the most vocal supporters of rail freight service legislation.

Meanwhile, CN and CP have both reported substantially higher net income for the first nine months of 2012.

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