Rail companies would have to give three years notice before closing a rail siding if the Deputy Liberal Leader's Bill C-586 is passed.

Ralph Goodale has introduced the legislation in an effort to strengthen the process railways have to follow before producer car loading sites can be abandoned.

"It amends certain sections of the Canada Transportation Act in order to provide greater protection for those railway sidings where there are producer car loading sites," says Goodale.

In order to discontinue service, a rail company would have to give three years notice, rather than the current 60 day notice period. The railway would also be required to prove to the Canadian Transportation Agency that abandoning the siding would be in the public interest.

"The farmer's right to load their own car has come to be known as 'the farmer's magna carta,'" says Goodale. The Supreme Court of Canada made the ruling over 100 years ago to ensure that farmers have a "safety valve" against commercial exploitation.

"That right is meaningless unless those sidings continue to exist for farmers to continue to exercise their right," he says.

Goodale says there are around 280 producer car loading sites in western Canada today, down from over 700 in 1999. Meantime, producers loaded nearly 12 thousand cars last year, up from less than 3500 a decade ago.

~ Wednesday, November 3, 2010 ~