Parliament passes transportation bill; royal assent pending

It will require more transparency from the railways

After months of political back-and-forth, Bill C-49 is finally a done deal.

The Transportation Modernization Act passed through the Senate yesterday just hours after the House of Commons voted to reject two final amendments the Senate had proposed. It still requires Royal Assent, but that is expected soon and certainly before the Commons rises for its summer break.

Grain organizations applauded the bill’s passage in time for the new crop year beginning Aug. 1.

Jeff Nielsen, president of Grain Growers of Canada, said farmers have been waiting years for a legislative fix to the grain transportation system that has caused two significant backlogs in the last four years.

“Bill C-49 will improve the long-term competitiveness of the grain supply chain and it is welcome news that these measures will become law,” he said in a statement.

Alberta Barley chair Jason Lenz called the bill a “monumental turning point.”

“It not only provides the long-term competitive mechanisms to improve rail service that we’ve been working to see implemented, but also paves the way for Canada to maintain its status as a reliable supplier to our global customers,” he said in a news release.

Key provisions in the bill include reciprocal penalties within service level agreements between grain shippers and the railways and long haul interswitching options.

It will also require more transparency from the railways.

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