Feds unveil new grain transportation strategy

OTTAWA — Transport minister Marc Garneau will introduce legislation next spring that he says will create a more transparent rail system.

It will include reciprocal penalties between shippers and the railways in service level agreements and address concerns raised during consultations about the maximum revenue entitlement for grain (revenue cap) and extended interswitching.

The minister announced his Transportation 2030 plan in Montreal this morning. It was developed in response to the Canada Transportation Act review and after consultation with stakeholders.

He said the legislation will “advance a long-term agenda for a more transparent, balanced and efficient rail system that reliably moves our goods to global markets.”

It will establish reciprocal penalties, better define adequate and suitable service, improve access and timelines for CTA decisions and address the future of the MRE and extended interswitching.

“We will continue to work with stakeholders to ensure there’s a proper balance in place — one that supports rail customers and delivers continued investments in the system,” Garneau said. “That’s how we will create a freight rail system that is even more competitive and efficient in the long term.”

A $10.1 billion investment in transportation infrastructure was part of the federal government’s fall economic statement earlier this week. Garneau said the investment would improve trade corridors and out-of-date infrastructure.

“Working in partnership with other levels of government and the private sector, we will be investing in trade critical improvements of national priority such as addressing railway bottlenecks that slow traffic in important export corridors,” he said.

He also pledged a focus on information sharing and collaboration through a new data-sharing plan “to support evidence-based decision making by government and all stakeholders.”

“We should also make sure that data is available to all who operate, oversee, analyze and use the transportation system,” Garneau said.

This would help all stakeholders understand the system as a whole.

The minister said one-fifth of all goods in Canada are shipped by rail, and the volume has doubled over the past 30 years.

Demand is increasing, and all parts of the system must be efficient and competitive.

Contact karen.briere@producer.com

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