AN INTERIM REPORT commissioned by Transport Minister David Collenette into competition on Canada’s rail network has ruled out a suggestion that the tracks should be passed to a government-owned corporation. Published on January 10, the report was a response to calls from shippers for more competition, which could include some form of open access. The idea did not find favour with the team who compiled the report, who said that ’this panel is determined to avoid access proposals that could lead to system inefficiencies, thus increasing costs that must be passed on to other shippers or which threaten railway viability.’

A full report is due later in the year, but in the meantime shippers will be pondering the implications of remarks made by Canadian National President Paul Tellier at the end of last year. With CN’s proposal to merge with BNSF turned down last July (RG 9.00 p512), Tellier has apparently considered a range of other options. According to The Montreal Gazette, these could include a merger with Canadian Pacific Railway. ’In the context of railways evolving in North America, companies like CN and CPR must seek out an alliance to become stronger’, said Tellier, with a single national railway proving beneficial to exporters. With CPR and CN announcing their 2000 results on January 22 and 23, the debate looks certain to hot up quickly.