Quorum’s sister firm hired for rail review

Edmonton consulting company QGI has been picked to handle two major projects as part of the federal government’s rail freight service review.

QGI is a sister company of Quorum Corp., the contractor that produces the quarterly Grain Monitor report for the federal government.

“QGI’s understanding of the government’s requirements for the project, their approach and methodology, and their capacity to manage the project will greatly benefit the review,” Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon said in a release Friday.

The overall review, which is expected to take up to 18 months to complete, is to look at the services offered by Canadian National (CN) and Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to shippers and customers within Canada, including to and from ports and border crossings.

The scope of the review is to include Canada’s rail-based logistics chain, from shippers and terminal operators to ports and vessels. The review was first announced as part of a package of amendments to the Canada Transportation Act in May 2007, passed in February this year.

The objectives of the first project under QGI’s contract are to develop a better understanding of the rail transportation logistics chain and to identify problems and issues in order to assist the review panel in developing recommendations, the government said.

This means providing descriptions of key elements of the logistics chain and a quantitative analysis of the railways’ ability to fulfill shipping orders and to provide consistent transit times in moving traffic from origin to destination.

The second project, meanwhile, is to provide a narrative description of the rail-based logistics system and identify operating practices of the railways, shippers/receivers, terminal operators, and shipping lines that adversely impact service, system efficiencies, and capacity. The project will also identify best operating practices of all parties for possible extension to other parts of the system, the government said.

The analysis will help the review panel to understand how the system works and identify problems as well as potential solutions. It will focus on operating practices related to rail freight movements in the major corridors to and from Canada’s main ports and border crossings, including operating practices at rail terminals and ports.

The government also plans to hire a consultant for a third project: a survey on railway best practices and issues. Transport Canada will handle a fourth project: an assessment of how service issues are addressed in other transportation sectors and in regulated industries in Canada and the U.S., such as phone, TV, gas, hydroelectricity and U.S. rail.

Between those four projects, the first stage of Ottawa’s review is expected to take a “minimum of six months, depending on the availability of required data and the extent of co-operation from railways, shippers and terminal operators in providing such data,” the government said in a previous release.

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