Transparency Key to an Efficient Rail Transportation System

Agriculture Industry CTA Review Coalition submitting recommendations to Canada Transportation Act Review Panel

OTTAWA, FEBRUARY 24 — The Canadian Transportation Act Review Coalition – agricultural groups representing the vast majority of shippers of bulk and processed grains and a broad cross-section of grower funded organizations – has come together to submit recommendations to the Canada Transportation Act review. The coalition believes that a competitive rail system is vital to Canada’s economy and that the current system is not meeting the needs of producers and exporters.

The Coalition identified problems in the current system with a lack of railway capacity, poor and non-responsive railway performance and weaknesses in the current regulatory measures meant to protect shippers from railway market dominance. The coalition has made recommendations in specific areas meant to clarify railway service obligations, improve the effectiveness of the regulatory environment and encourage the development of a more competitive and efficient system.

One of the Coalition’s recommendations is to improve transparency with regards to the capacity and operation of the rail freight system by improving the Canadian Transportation Agency’s (the Agency) access to information.

The recent release of independent railway performance data by another Canadian Ag industry group, the ATC, has emphasized the value of performance-based metrics in assessing the performance of the transportation system. Access to capacity to meet demand in a timely manner and efficient execution of railway service plans is essential to meet the Ag sector’s growing production, processing and export of grains, oilseeds, pulses and special crops.

The CTA Review coalition recommends that this be done by requiring immediate improvements to railway reporting regarding their operating and investment plans and by enhanced reporting by railways to the Agency of freight rate and traffic information. In addition, the coalition is asking for the development of a new regime of independent, comprehensive, transparent and timely monitoring and reporting on railway service performance for all commodities.

The coalition is also asking that a permanent advisory board composed of stakeholders representing all primary rail user groups assist in the establishment of the new monitor’s operating terms of reference and to guide its activities on an on-going basis. The advisory board would also ensure that all rail users have access to rail performance data.
The Agriculture Industry CTA Review Coalition includes Canada’s largest agricultural product shippers and processors, as well as a number of producer groups. Coalition members include: Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, Alberta Federation of Agriculture, Animal Nutrition Association of Canada, British Columbia Agriculture Council, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, Canadian Oilseed Processors Association, Canadian Special Crops Association, Inland Terminal Association of Canada, Keystone Agricultural Processors, Manitoba Pulse Growers Association, Pulse Canada and the Western Grain Elevators Association.

The ATC (Ag Transport Coalition) is a separate group from the CTA Review Coalition. The ATC represents a group of agriculture associations that have come together to jointly fund a 5-year Growing Forward 2 initiative aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the agriculture supply chain. The ATC members include the Alberta Wheat Commission, the Canadian Canola Growers Association, the Canadian Oilseed Processors Association, the Inland Terminal Association of Canada, the Manitoba Pulse Growers Association, Pulse Canada, and the Western Grain Elevator Association.
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