Former Alberta politician Jim Dinning.
7 November 2011
Rail Service Agreements
Saskatoon Saskatchewan - With changes on the way for the Wheat Board, the federal government is starting to focus more attention on the
grain transportation system.
Farmers and grain companies have complained about railway service for years, whether it be poor shipping times, or a lack of rail cars.
Last week, former Alberta politician Jim Dinning was appointed by the federal government to lead the freight service discussions. Those negotiations will be
based on key recommendations made by the Rail Freight Service Review in late 2010.
Richard Phillips is the Executive Director of the Grain Growers of Canada.
"What he (Dinning) will be doing is sitting down with the shippers and the railways, and say, what should the base service level agreement look like.
That's what his job will be is to bring the parties together and put that in place."
Phillips says the railways have excellent government lobbyists, but says all shippers (agriculture, forestry, mining) are maintaining a united position. The
coalition of shippers account for 90 percent of CN and CP Rail freight revenue.
"The railways have gone to individual members in individual sectors saying, well, if you work closer with us, hint-hint, you will get better shipping. But
our coalition has stayed together because we all have much longer memories than that and when you have them on the run, you got to keep them on the run,"
However, don't expect a quick resolution.
"This is probably a two to three year process," says Phillips. "Realistically, we would like to see it sooner, but it is more important to get
this thing done right and end up with rules and level of service agreements and reciprocal penalties that actually have some teeth in them."
The facilitation process lead by Dinning is slated to last six months.