Wednesday, July 08, 2009

 

BC Rail, the jewel that once was ours, December 14, 2006

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... excerpted from a Canadian Transportation Act (CTA) Review Panel's report dated 23 February 2001. That date is important. British Columbia had an NDP government. The premier was a soon-to-be-Liberal by the name of Ujjal Dosanjh.

The CTA Review Panel had been asked (by whom, it doesn't say) to assess rail competition in Canada, especially the running rights and "other forms of access remedies."

The report says that these rights are significant for British Columbia because the Province owned the largest regional railway in Canada, BC Rail. As such, BC Rail was a strategic resource for the province.

BC Rail was Canada's 3rd largest railroad by revenues, operating 2,315 kilometers of mainline track and 740 kilometers of industrial and yard track throughout B.C. In addition, BCR had a 37 kilometer line connecting CN, CP, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) to the West Coast's largest coal terminal and Deltaport container terminal at Roberts Bank.

BC Rail was provincially regulated and competed fully within the private sector in a market environment without government subsidy.

Freight traffic involved 200,000 revenue carloads annually from over 200 customer facilities. In 1999, forestry, mining, energy, and agricultural products made up 80% of the $329 Million annual revenue.

The overwhelming percentage of BCRail tonnage was transported beyond BC's borders. 40% of BC Rail shipments were forwarded to other North American railroads. By contrast, loaded rail cars forwarded to BCR by other railroads accounted for only 2% -- an imbalance which results in an inordinate number of train miles without revenue loads.

BCR's only direct rail link was with CN at Prince George and Vancouver. CP and BNSF were accessed through CN in North Vancouver. Big railroads threaten regional ones.

Recommendations of the C.T.A.:

1) Negotiate Competitive Access over major rail lines, e.g., Prince George to Edmonton, using haulage rights, not running rights.

2) Provide access to final arbitration on disputes such as tariffs.

3) Regulatory oversight for major mergers, i.e., must prove it's in the public interest.

Nowhere did it suggest selling BC Rail.

The Gordon Campbell government was installed 3 months later after the election of May 17, 2001.



From: Canadian Transportation Act Review Panel "On Competitive Rail Access, BC Rail -- 6 October 2000". That's before the election of the Campbell Government whose election promise was that they would not sell BC Rail. - BC Mary.

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Comments:
Hi Mary, can you please contact me through email? I need to speak with you ASAP...and if possible...can we somehow get hold of Skookum1? I need to ask his permission to use some of his brilliant analysis on Article 5.1.

Thanks HUGE bunches.
 
Leah:

Anytime you have something to say privately, just write across the top of your comment: NOT FOR PUBLICATION. OK?

I can also forward a message to Skookum1 if you send it to me that way (FOR SKOOKUM1, NOT FOR PUBLICATION).

Now you've got me curious!

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Me too.

RossK

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