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CWB’s appeal allowed over CN service

The Canadian Wheat Board will get its day in court to appeal a Canadian Transportation Agency ruling over the level of rail service CN gives to Prairie wheat and barley.

The Federal Court of Appeal on Friday granted the CWB’s Oct. 24 application for leave to appeal the CTA’s Sept. 25 decision.

The CWB was one of six grain shippers involved in a formal level-of-service complaint against CN relating to the 2007-08 crop year. The CTA in September ruled CN had shirked its obligations to four of the six grain companies in question, but wasn’t in breach of its obligations to the CWB at a system level.

For the first 25 weeks of 2007-08, the CTA said in September, CN delivered over 80 per cent of the requested rail cars to CWB and more than 95 per cent of these cars were delivered either on time or in the subsequent two weeks (three weeks total).

For grain weeks 26 to 28, the CTA said, the deliveries fell below the CTA’s established threshold, but after the application of the 12-week rolling average, the percentages to those three weeks “increased to exceed the standard.”

The CWB on Friday said it now has 60 days to file its notice of appeal. It plans to argue the CTA “excluded relevant evidence” when it dismissed the CWB’s complaint about inadequate rail service.

Furthermore, the CWB said, it will argue the CTA did not complete its investigation to a point where it was in a position to determine whether CN had breached its service obligations.

The CTA ordered CN in September to start providing a level of service to the four affected companies — North East Terminal, North West Terminal, Paterson Grain and Parrish and Heimbecker — as set out in the established service performance benchmark for crop year 2008-09 and beyond.

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