CTA to examine Vancouver freight rail service

The Canadian Transportation Agency has initiated an investigation into possible freight rail service issues in the Vancouver area.

Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau authorized the investigation today at the request of the CTA.

Under provisions added to the Canada Transportation Act in May 2018, the CTA can launch an investigation, provided the federal transportation minister agrees.

The CTA concluded that an investigation would be appropriate based on information received from shipper associations and other parties.

The investigation will examine a variety of issues, including whether there is evidence of discriminatory treatment of certain commodities, how freight rail permits and embargoes are being used and whether railway companies operating in the Vancouver area are fulfilling their service obligations.

A public hearing will be held in Vancouver at the end of January to give railway companies and shipper groups an opportunity to provide evidence in response to questions from the CTA.

“One of the CTA’s responsibilities is to help ensure an efficient, smoothly running national rail system,” said Scott Streiner, the agency’s chair and chief executive officer.

“This is the first time we’re using a new authority to launch investigations on our own motion to advance this mandate.”

Streiner said the public hearing later this month will give parties an opportunity to submit evidence as the CTA considers whether railway companies operating in the Vancouver area are fulfilling their service obligations and what remedies might be required.

“We’ll get the investigation done as quickly as possible, but we’ll take the time required to gather all the relevant facts,” he said

The CTA is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal and regulator that deals with transportation issues and has all the powers of a superior court.

The agency has three core mandates:

• ensuring that the national transportation system runs efficiently and smoothly

• protecting the fundamental right of persons with disabilities to accessible transportation services

• providing consumer protection for air passengers

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