Increase rail competition and lowering costs of hauling farm commodities are the goals of provisions included in a federal bill to extend interswitching on railways.
Ian Boxall, president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan (APAS) noted some provisions to Bill C-47 include ensuring the rates are fair for interswitching and making sure it’s done in a proper manner.
He explained “99 percent of the grain elevators in Western Canada” are serviced by CPKC Rail or CN Rail.
“What interswitching would allow would be the opposite railroad of who you’re serviced to be able to run up the line to a maximum of 250 kilometres, and pick up rail cars – if the provider you are normally on cannot do that for you – so it just adds a level of competition that will be beneficial to the elevators, the shippers, and also the farmers.” added Boxall.
“We have seen that in 2016 it worked really well and there were savings of 5 million dollars that rolls back to producers because they were able to ship their grain in a more timely fashion.” continued Boxall.
In a letter sent to the federal government, APAS also recommended extending the trial period beyond the current 18-months and “ensuring clear and transparent measures are in place for accountability.”
He hopes the federal government will support the provisions in the bill.
“I think we’d like to see this maybe as a long-term request and ensure that stays in place to ensure extra shipping and competitiveness within the supply chain.”
You can hear the full interview with APAS President Ian Boxall below.