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June 28, 2013

Ottawa, ON - Bill C-52, the Fair Rail Freight Service Act received Royal Assent on June 26 and its provisions will now be integrated into the Canada Transportation Act, the law that governs the commercial activities of airlines and federally regulated railways.

When the independent Rail Service Review Panel issued its final report in 2011, the government announced several actions including a bill to guarantee rail shippers the right to a service agreement that provides a reasonable definition of service.

Bill C-52 confirms in law the right of rail shippers to a service agreement, provides for an arbitration process to obtain a service agreement if one can’t be directly negotiated, and provides for fines of up to $100,000 per incident against the railways for breaches of service agreements.

“Shippers acknowledge the government’s attention to the rail service problems over the past six years, and its objectives for Bill C-52, however there are concerns about its effectiveness in practice” said Bob Ballantyne, CITA President. “As the bill breaks new ground, there is no jurisprudence and little relevant experience on which to draw”, he added.

The Coalition of Rail Shippers (CRS) proposed six amendments designed to provide more clarity and increase the probability that the government’s stated objectives would be met. The government did not adopt the clarifying amendments.

Now that C-52 is law, the CITA and its member companies will be looking for quick implementation of the third commitment in the government’s announcement of March 18, 2011, specifically to: “establish a Commodity Supply Chain Table, involving supply chain partners that ship commodities by rail, to address logistical concerns and develop performance metrics to improve competitiveness”. Evaluating the success of C-52 will depend on continuing and independent measurement of service.

The Canadian Industrial Transportation Association has been in existence since 1916 representing the transportation interests of Canadian industry. Our 100+ members include companies, both large and small, from most industrial sectors and from all across the country. The CITA member companies contribute approximately $100 billion annually to the Canadian economy and purchase approximately $6 billion in freight transportation by truck, rail, marine and airfreight.

For more information contact:
Bob Ballantyne
Canadian Industrial Transportation Association
Phone: 613-599-8993
Cell: 613-294-4569

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