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OTTAWA, Ont. — Rail giant Canadian National Railway (CN) sounds nervous that Canada Transportation Act (CTA) reform may lead to reduced rail rates for farmers.

Paul Tellier, president and chief executive officer of CN, in discussing the CTA review process says it’s vital that policymakers resist intense pressures to use the process to fix Canada’s farm income crisis.

While many blame the situation facing farmers on CN’s elimination of the short-line rail network, Tellier insists the crisis has been prompted by a grain subsidy war between the U.S. and European Union.

Tellier stresses that, while farm input costs have risen substantially in recent years, CN’s rail rates for grain transportation have declined by almost 50 per cent since rail deregulation commenced in 1987.

“It’s a policy problem the Government of Canada has to address within the context of World Trade Organization and North American Free Trade Agreement rules,” he says. Tellier adds the CTA review process should not be used to reward “poachers” seeking forced access to CN’s and Canadian Pacific Railway’s main lines.

Forced access would damage Canada’s rail infrastructure in the long run he insists.

“It would put the network at the disposal of those who did not build it, do not maintain it and who are not responsible for the service it provides,” says Tellier. “It’s been tried elsewhere, and it doesn’t work.”

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