OTTAWA, Ont. — The Coalition of Rail Shippers is calling Bill C-52, the Fair Rail Freight Service Act, which was introduced in Parliament today, “a step in the right direction” in terms of allowing shippers to get some commercial balance in their negotiations with railways.
“Shippers expect to bargain commercially with the railways.” says CRS Chairman, Bob Ballantyne. “However, because railways can unilaterally impose conditions on customers or refuse to provide any at all, shippers frequently find themselves with no ability to get adequate levels of service or even negotiate terms of service. That’s why railway customers have been looking for the right to a service level agreement and a dispute resolution process with consequences for non-performance by the railway.”
Ballantyne added that Bill C-52 establishes a legislative framework that will act as a surrogate for the normal competition that most businesses expect daily, explaining that under shippers may now request elements found in normal industrial agreements, i.e. what the seller is selling in some detail (i.e., a product specification), what the buyer will pay, and how disputes will be resolved.