Canadian National (CN) has pledged to hold off on closing over four dozen producer car sidings until the end of this year, the federal government said Sept. 21.
CN recently announced it would “delist” a number of chosen sites across all three Prairie provinces, after a required 60-day notice period ended Sept. 6 with no known offers from farmers to lease the rail sidings where the railway would previously pick up producer cars.
A CN spokesperson said earlier this month that about three-quarters of the 53 sidings it plans to close have not been used at all in the last three years, while the remainder has seen less than five cars. Inspection and maintenance of the little-used sites, along with over 120 remaining producer car sidings, is done at the railway’s expense.
Farmers’ groups have noted that the 60-day notice period to close a siding is a tiny window compared to the three years’ notice CN or Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) must give before shutting down a branch line.
Alberta MP Rob Merrifield, the federal minister of state for transport, said in a release he was “disappointed that a rail company would make significant changes that affect its customers without meaningful consultation.
“Immediately upon learning that CN Rail was going to be closing 52 producer car rail sites, I called its senior management into my office,” he said.
Following the meeting, the government said, CN committed to keep the 52 producer car loading sites that it had marked for closure by Sept. 6 in place until at least the end of 2009.