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CTA Dismisses Complaint Agains CN

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The Canadian Transportation Agency has dismissed a level-of-service complaint against CN by Western Grain Trade Ltd.

In a decision announced Feb. 11, the CTA said CN did the best it could in meeting the company’s need for cars in restricted plant facilities in North Battleford.

The pulse crop shipper accused CN of erratic and unreliable delivery of hopper cars that it said constituted “a breach of CN’s level-of-service obligations to WGT.” The poor performance and inadequate communication from the railway about empty car deliveries “makes it difficult for it to plan processing time, to plan incoming grower shipments and to confirm forward sales or purchase contracts.”

WGT’s siding has a maximum capacity of four hoppers to serve two plants. There’s a complicated mix of products and a wide variety of loading times. During the 2007-08 crop year, the company shipped four cars per week but that figure climbed to 16 in the next crop year.

The company is expanding its processing capacity at the plant and considered upgrading its siding until it became frustrated with the rail service.CNsaid the shipments from

WGT go to transloading facilities on the West Coast where the crops are loaded in containers. They “don’t require the staging or accumulation of product for direct loading into a bulk vessel.”

In its conclusion, the CTA said the company received 86 per cent of the cars it ordered during 2008-09. It also said “that almost one-third of the cars received were not released within the week of placement and that the average dwell time for hopper cars on WGT’s property “exceeded the allowable free time for loading by over 200 per cent during most of the (time it examined)… In this case, WGT has significantly increased its demand for rail cars and there has not been a decrease in CN’s service. In fact, CN offers yard service that provides considerable flexibility.”

WGT generally could not load and release the cars delivered to it, the CTA added.

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