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Trucking industry lobbies for rail improvements

Posted: August 1, 2014

OTTAWA — At the end of a federal government review of Canada’s rail freight service, the Canadian Trucking Alliance is hoping the two industries can work together more efficiently.

In a submission delivered to a panel overseeing the rail freight service review, the CTA argued that trucking companies were not taking full advantage of intermodal opportunities out of frustration with service shortcomings on the part of Canada’s class 1 railways.

In a survey of CTA member carriers, 82 percent of respondents indicated they were not pleased with the current level of service. Complaints ranged from waiting times at intermodal terminals, to unreliable on-time performance, to the application of demurrage fees.

The views expressed by trucking company representatives were similar to those expressed by Canadian shippers in a study undertaken for Transport Canada by NRG Research Group.

That study, also undertaken as part of the rail freight service review, found low overall satisfaction, with 62 percent of respondents indicating they had suffered “serious financial impact as a result of poor rail freight service.”

This is unfortunate because “some trucking companies would like to move more freight over rail if only the conditions could be made more palatable,” commented David Bradley, CEO of the CTA.

“Some who have tried have given up in frustration over service issues,” he added. “If all supply chain partners work together and live up to their service obligations, the freight transportation system as a whole will become more efficient, to the benefit of Canadian manufacturers, importers, exporters and consumers.”

In its recommendations to the panel, CTA cautioned against a quick rush to legislative or regulatory fixes.

“Trucking is a bastion of free market competition, and we are loathe to suggest that bureaucratic structures be put in place that would regulate the relationship between business partners,” concluded Bradley.

Instead, CTA would like to see the class 1 railways draft action plans to respond to the expected recommendations of the panel, to be monitored by the Canadian Transportation Agency.

While not strictly within the mandate of the panel, CTA would also like to see a policy review undertaken of the impact on trucking rates of railways’ involvement in the trucking business.

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