Minister asking federal government for solution to Northern B.C. rail car shortage

A former BC Rail locomotive now owned by CN hauling tank cars near Fort St. John. Photo by Chris Newton

VICTORIA, B.C. — Jobs, Trade and Technology Minister Bruce Ralston says he is urging Canada’s transport minister to ensure a reliable supply of rail cars in Northern B.C., where the economy is suffering due to a chronic shortage of freight cars.

“The impact of unreliable, and inadequate, rail service extends far beyond grain producers in northern B.C.,” Ralston stated in a letter to federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau. “Lumber mills and other industries, from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson, are also being seriously impacted by the lack of rail service.”

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Ralston has asked Garneau to work with northern B.C. chambers of commerce to develop plans for improving oversight and performance of Canadian National (CN) Rail’s system in the region.

“Minister Garneau needs to convey that the Prairie backlog at CN Rail and Canadian Pacific Railway is having a detrimental impact on northern B.C. families and businesses. Companies looking to invest in northern B.C. communities are understandably discouraged from doing so because of the risk and uncertainty caused by CN Rail’s unreliable service. While the recent apology from CN is an important acknowledgement of how serious the situation has become, longer-term solutions need to be found.”

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