Mr. Speaker, in response to (a), what analysis has the government conducted on the impacts of rail shipment rates on the forestry, mining, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, the government’s capacity to analyze the impacts of rail shipment rates is limited by the lack of accessible data. The Canada Transportation Act requires railways to prepare publicly available tariffs that identify a rate for the movement of traffic. However, it is not clear the extent to which tariff rates are applied in practice since most rates in the forestry, mining and manufacturing sectors are established within confidential contracts. For example, in its submission to the rail freight service review, Canadian Pacific Rail indicated that confidential contracts govern more than 75% of its business. Within confidential contracts the rates can vary from published tariffs, as rates are negotiated in conjunction with related service commitments, ancillary charges, terms and conditions. The government does not have access to confidential contracts.
The transport of western grain is subject to the revenue cap provision of the Canada Transportation Act. Each year, the Canadian Transportation Agency examines whether the railways have complied with the legislation. The agency has just released its determination for the 2009-2010 crop year, finding that the revenues of both railways were below the amount allowed by the legislation.
In response to (b), what analysis does the government conduct on the impacts of the lack of competition in the railway sector on remote and northern communities, the government monitors and conducts analysis on freight rail transportation issues in Canada including issues related to shipper’s access to more than one railway. At present, the government is addressing concerns about rail freight service through the rail freight service review. The review consisted of six analytical reports to achieve a better understanding of the nature and extent of problems within the logistics chain, focusing on the performance of stakeholders involved in the rail-based logistics system, primarily the railways, particularly Canadian National Railway, CN, and Canadian Pacific Railway, CP, but also shippers, ports, shipping lines and terminal operators.
Phase two consisted of a panel of three persons who consulted extensively and received written submissions from over 140 different stakeholders from across the rail-based logistics chain. As noted in the interim report of the panel that led the review, there is a range of views as to the degree of competition and captivity that exists in the rail-based supply chain. At the same time, the research report entitled, “Analysis of Railway Fulfillment of Shipper Demand and Transit Times”, prepared by QGI Consulting, found that there were no systemic differences in transit time performance depending on shipper size, flow size, access to rail competition or core versus non-core railway origins.
The panel’s interim report, consultant analytical reports and stakeholder submissions are publicly available on the rail freight service review website.
In response to parts (c), (d), (e) and (f), the government will review the panel’s final report before deciding on next steps.