American Shipper

Canadian grain shippers want in on suit before transport agency

Canadian grain shippers want in on suit before transport agency

The three largest Canadian grain shippers asked Friday to become an interested third party in a service complaint by the Canadian Wheat Board and smaller grain firms against the Canadian National Railway.

   Viterra, James Richardson International Ltd. and Cargill Ltd., each requested 'intervener status' in the case being heard by the Canadian Transportation Agency that is set to be ruled upon by Jan. 19.

   Intervener status allows a person or entity to enter the lawsuit as a third party if it feels the case or its potential decision may affect them. Interveners can present evidence and cross-examine witnesses in the legal proceedings.

   The complaint stems from claims from CWB and smaller shippers that some Canadian National Railway car booking programs unfairly favor large grain shippers.

   The three large firms, which together account for about 84 percent of Canada's grain shipping, have taken exception to the remedies being proposed by the small shippers.

   Viterra, the largest of the firms, told Reuters the advance booking programs are not discriminatory but actually help shippers with shipment planning and result in lower costs and less congestion at the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia.

   “Viterra believes measures that encourage greater use of full unit trains should be endorsed and supported, not restricted or eliminated,” said Fran Malecha, Viterra's chief operating officer, in the firm's filing to the CTA.

   JRI said in its filing that while the firm has issues with the Canadian National Railway, it does not want to see limits on imposed on the railroad's booking programs as proposed by the small shippers.

   Cargill said it believes that implementing the remedies suggested by the smaller shippers could result in a less efficient system.