Strahl Rules Out Costing Review Until Service Study Complete

Transport Minister Chuck Strahl will wait for the final recommendations from the Rail Service Review Panel before deciding on requests for an examination of railway costing.

“We want to see if the panel’s recommendations resolve shipper complaints about the quasi-monopolistic status of the railways before the government decides on another review,” Strahl told the Commons transport committee Oct. 28.

“There’re many issues being considered by the service review panel that will address the concerns of forestry and grain grower groups.”

The Canadian Federation of Agriculture, the Canadian Wheat Board and the three Prairie provincial farm groups have requested the review, charging that CN and CP are making excessive profits from grain farmers.

The groups note a study released in the spring says farmers are paying up to $9 a tonne too much for grain transportation.

“All railway costs need to be reviewed; this has not been done since 1992 and much has changed in the last 18 years. Railway revenues have cont inued to climb while farmers have seen rail freight rates jump by roughly 40 per cent. This is in addition to longer trucking distances, to the need to reconfigure their yards to accommodate larger and heavier trucks, and to the added wear and tear on their municipal roads.”

The CFA says the service review is being done for Transport Canada while the Canadian Transport Agency could oversee the costing review.

Grain Growers of Canada and various commodity groups haven’t endorsed the costing review because they think level-of-service issues with the carriers are more important for exporters.

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