Rail supply chain performance

priority for federal government

In late March, Conservative ministers met with representatives from various sectors of the rail-based freight supply chain in an effort to continue progress made in the Rail Freight Service Review. Launched in 2008, the review exists to address and highlight issues with rail freight services, a vital service in Canada’s transportation industry.

Rob Merrifield, Minister of State (Transport), told the meeting that the government is committed to helping Canada get the rail system “it needs to support a strong economy and our domestic and international trade. Today, we are following through on that promise with measures to enhance the effectiveness, efficiency, and reliability of the entire rail freight supply chain.”

The review was conducted in two phases. The first phase comprised analytical work to achieve a better understanding of the nature and extent of problems and best practices within the supply chain, including those experienced by shippers, terminal operators, ports and vessel operators, with a focus on railway performance. An independent panel, chaired by Walter Paszkowski, led the second phase, which included extensive consultations with stakeholders across the supply chain. The panel’s final report was also made public today.

The government accepts the panel’s commercial approach and intends to implement the following steps to improve the performance of the entire rail supply chain:

initiate a six-month facilitation process with shippers, railways and other stakeholders to negotiate a template service agreement and streamlined commercial dispute resolution process;

table a bill to give shippers the right to a service agreement to support the commercial measures;

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;

in collaboration with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Transport Canada will lead an in-depth analysis of the grain supply chain to focus on issues that affect that sector and help identify potential solutions.

“Railways, farmers and all shippers depend on one another for their survival and profitability, and we’re making sure they have the tools they need to capture efficiencies and strengthen that partnership,” said Minister Gerry Ritz. “Today’s announcement is further evidence of our government’s consistent commitment to put farmers first and make sure the agriculture industry remains strong.”

“The Rail Freight Service Review has been a very important undertaking for Canada’s rail system, involving close consultation with key stakeholders,” said Minister Merrifield. “I would like to thank the panel for its diligent and thorough work. At the same time, I urge every stakeholder in the supply chain—including the railways and shippers—to work cooperatively to implement the commercial approach.”