Agency to investigate possible freight rail problems in Vancouver

Agency to investigate possible freight rail problems in Vancouver
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GATINEAU, Que. — The National Transportation Agency will investigate possible problems with freight train service issues in the Vancouver area including whether rail companies are fulfilling their obligations.

The agency said in a news release Monday that it’s the first time it is using its new authority to launch such an investigation, which will also determine whether there was discriminatory treatment of certain commodities.

Agency chairman Scott Streiner says it will hold public hearings, allowing parties to submit evidence and offer suggestions on how things could be improved.

The agency says hearings will be held at the end of January and give railway companies and shipper groups an opportunity to provide evidence.

The Forests Products Association of Canada says it welcomes the investigation, adding that rail delays last year cost the forest sector over $500 million.

No one from Canadian Pacific Railway could immediately be reached for comment, but a Canadian National Railway statement says the company will co-operate fully and that the investigation should take into account the full supply chain and dozens of players involved late last year,

“CN acted swiftly and efficiently to serve its customers during this period and played its role in moving record volumes through Vancouver’s complex and multi-commodity supply chain,” the statement said. “During this period, CN moved 10 per cent more freight through Vancouver than last year.”

The agency says it concluded an investigation would be appropriate based on information received from shipper associations and other parties.

It requested authorization from Transport Minister Marc Garneau and says it was given approval for the investigation by him on Friday.

The Canadian Press

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