RAC repeats calls for programs to help shortlines invest in infrastructure
In response to the disappointing news that Huron Central Railway will discontinue operations by the end of 2018, the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) today expressed its profound discontent at the lack of capital funding programs dedicated to helping shortline railways – an integral part of Canada’s transportation system – invest in their infrastructure.
The recent Canada Transportation Act Review report recognized the importance of Canada’s shortline rail sector and recommended the creation of a federal-provincial program to support capital shortline infrastructure investments through contributions, grants, or low-cost, long-term financing.
“Despite similar studies and reports recognizing the lack of public funding for local and regional railways – or shortlines – governments have not created programs to help these companies capitalize on growth opportunities and meet evolving rail safety regulatory requirements,” said RAC Acting President Gérald Gauthier. “This type of program might have prevented the discontinuance of Huron Central Railway. Closure of this railway – and potentially other shortlines – puts safety at risk, increases congestion on public roads and harms the environment.”
Canada’s 50-plus shortlines provide vital first-mile/last-mile service to customers not served directly by Class 1 railways. By safely and efficiently moving traffic to and from the main lines, where CN and CP handle the long-haul transportation, they help shippers connect to the global marketplace.
Shortlines compete directly with the subsidized trucking sector, which has access to publicly funded infrastructure. For years, and most recently in its pre-federal budget 2018 submission and 2017 Ontario pre-budget submission, RAC has advocated for governments to level the playing field for infrastructure benefits. Investments in shortline infrastructure would help to maintain vital rail service to remote communities, improve safety and limit transportation-related emissions. This infographic highlights the environmental benefits of shipping by rail, the challenges that local and regional railways face, and how government funding would help to ensure that shortlines can support Canada’s sustainable growth.
About the Railway Association of Canada
The Railway Association of Canada (RAC) represents more than 50 freight and passenger railway companies that move more than 84 million passengers and $280 billion worth of goods in Canada each year. The RAC advocates on behalf of its members and associate members to ensure that the rail sector remains globally competitive, sustainable and, most importantly, safe. Learn more at www.railcan.ca. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.