Canadian Shipper


CITA files against ‘unfair commercial practices’ of railways

The Canadian Industrial Transportation Association / Association canadienne de transport industriel (CITA-ACTI) has filed a formal application with the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) with respect to the manner in which Canada’s two largest railways, the Canadian National Railway (CN) and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), develop, issue and impose certain tariffs upon its member companies.

CITA-ACTI is asking the Agency to issue a formal declaration stating that CN and CP lack the authority to unilaterally impose the rules and charges contained in certain tariffs both these railways issue under the current legislation. (The Canada Transportation Act, 1996). The Agency has 120 days under the Act to consider and rule on CITA-ACTI’s application.

“In recent months, a number of CITA-ACTI member companies have expressed serious concerns and frustration over the application of various railway “rules” and “charges” to their traffic and operations. Our members face increases of hundreds of thousands of dollars for ‘supplementary charges and services’ to their freight bills. These impact directly on the cost of Canadian goods. At the end of the day, it is the consumer who is paying for this,” says Lisa MacGillivray, President of the Association.

CITA-ACTI members cite two railway freight tariffs – Tariff CN 9000 and CPRS 6666 as questionable. Each of these tariffs, says the CITA, contain over 250 railway rules, regulations and charges which are imposed and assessed daily on CITA-ACTI members for everything from the use and storage of railway and shipper-supplied equipment, to the weighing, switching, cleaning, loading and unloading of cars. All to often, CITA-ACTI members are billed and then pursued vigorously to pay penalties for actions that didn’t even occur, such as failing to return a rail car in a timely fashion, says the Association.

“What is particularly irksome is the stonewalling CITA-ACTI members get when they try to open discussions with their railway on these charges. Members tell us they have little or no recourse in contesting these charges. In these instances, the railways appear to be acting in a monopolistic manner,”says. MacGillivray.

CITA-ACTI membership includes many of the largest purchasers of transportation services in Canada. Collectively, CITA-ACTI’s member companies generate more than $120 billion in trade and have an aggregate freight bill (including all modes) of more than $6 billion in freight services annually.