Report from transportation watchdog probes commodity discrimination by rail – by Christopher Reynolds (Financial Post – January 26, 2019)

A preliminary report from the Canadian Transportation Agency appears to confirm shippers’ complaints about a relatively high number of restrictions on commodities they tried to move by rail through the Vancouver area.

Industry groups have accused Canada’s two largest rail companies of “discriminatory treatment” against some commodities, the report notes, highlighting the use of embargoes that temporarily stop traffic at specific loading points or interchanges.

Filed Thursday, the report is part of a CTA investigation launched on Jan. 14 following complaints from shipping associations about rail service in B.C.’s Lower Mainland over the past three months.

In a statement last week, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. chief executive Keith Creel called the investigation’s abrupt launch “irresponsible.”

He pointed to record grain shipments and a busier port in recent months as global trade tensions work in Canada’s favour, with a Chinese tariff on U.S. soybeans and retaliatory European tariffs on U.S. corn spurring more Canadian exports. Canadian National Railway Co. has cited harsh weather and the complex supply chain that feeds into Canada’s busiest port.

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