|CN railcar shortages on former BC Rail lines|
threaten regional economic stability
|April 5, 2005
Vancouver - In the wake of reports of shipping delays and rail car shortages along the former BC Rail line, BC's independent
Auditor General needs to assess the impact of CN's poor performance since purchasing BC Rail from the Gordon Campbell
Liberal government, NDP Leader Carole James said today.
"Concerns coming from shippers and mills along the rail line demonstrate a clear need for the Auditor General to determine why
such problems are occurring," said James. "All Northern and Interior residents hear from the Liberal government is spin; they
deserve to know what's really going on along the former BC Rail line."
According to a Canfor Daily Newsletter, released on March 23, 2005, warehouse pulp inventory "has reached a critical level" due
to a lack of railcars available for transferring goods to market.
As a result of the backlog, warehouses are forced to erect temporary shelters for goods, and businesses are incurring financial
penalties for late delivery. An increased use of trucks, as an alternative to transport goods, is having an economic impact on the
bottom line of local businesses as truck shortages also loom on the horizon.
"The failure to get products to market in a timely fashion is limiting the ability for industries to prosper, and threatens economic
stability and job security for the region," said James
The government's briefing on the sale of BC Rail in November 2004 claimed that reduced rates and faster shipping times were to
be among the benefits of the sale.
"These benefits are not being realised by the mills dependent on the rail line," said James. "CN's failure to deliver on the
government's public commitment is having a significant and negative impact on regional industry."
James said that given the political sensitivity surrounding this issue, and the partisan interests of all participants as the provincial
election nears, it is appropriate for the Auditor General to investigate why these delays are happening, if they constitute a breach
of commitment, and what remedies exist to assist businesses negatively impacted thus far.
"It is my sincere hope that the Auditor General will agree to review and assess the impact of the current situation for the benefit
of regional industries, local communities and the public trust.
Click here to read Carole James' letter to the B.C. Auditor General