Rail wants to carry more of the load in north-south traffic

by Canadian Shipper

Rail can carry more of the load in crossborder trade but it will need a helping hand through improved customs inspection procedures, and strategic investments in common databases and processes to eliminate duplication and streamline traffic flow, according to Bruce Burrows, vice-president of public affairs and government relations for the Railway Association of Canada (RAC).

“Rail can carry more of the load, but public policies should reflect the country’s future economic needs and priorities, not those of its past,” said Burrows. His organization represents 54 freight and passenger railways operating in Canada.

More than one million carloads of freight and containers cross the Canada-U.S. border by rail each year but greater growth is within reach Burrows told the Public Policy Forum’s Round Table on Borders, Transportation and Trade meeting in Toronto recently.

Ontario trade and transportation corridors handle the largest portion 65 percent of the value of crossborder trade and 80 per cent of U.S.-destined rail traffic moves through Ontario gateways. That also reflects the importance of scheduled deliveries and intermodal traffic growth.

Burrows also repeated earlier RAC demands for a surface transportation policy that addresses current tax and regulatory policies that according to Burrows give Canadian rail a 51-per cent cost handicap, compared with U.S. railroads.

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