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CPR makes pitch to move truck freight by rail at a cost of $2 billion

OTTAWA, Ont. -- The federal government is considering a $2-billion proposal that would move freight off Hwy. 401 an...

OTTAWA, Ont. — The federal government is considering a $2-billion proposal that would move freight off Hwy. 401 and onto Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) cars.

CPR president Robert Ritchie recently made the pitch to federal Transport Minister David Collenette and his senior officials according to CPR documents obtained by local media.

CPR insists that moving truck trailers by rail will make the highway safer, save taxpayers millions of dollars in road repairs, reduce energy consumption and cut greenhouse gas emissions. But CPR admits $2 billion in upgraded rail lines will be needed to efficiently move truck trailers by rail.

The Ontario government is being called on to pitch in toward the proposal, which is a major cause for concern among truckers.

"As congestion grows, trucks are becoming less competitive," insists an unidentified government source. "Drivers are also getting pissed off at all the trucks on the 401. It’s a radical proposal and it’s being pushed from within."

The proposal indicates that truckers will be required to deliver their trailers to rail yards, where they will be delivered on rail flatcars and then picked up by other trucks at their destination. It calls for a second rail line to be built between Smiths Falls and Toronto and Toronto and Windsor.

"Truckers will suffer, but this isn’t an attack on them," say CPR documents. "The reality is from an economic and environmental point of view, it makes sense. That’s why we are seeking to enter into partnership with them and the government."

Trucker Doug Edwards tells local media that he’s concerned about the proposal. "If it limits the trucks on the road, obviously it limits drivers, so companies have to get rid of drivers," Edwards tells local media.

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