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Rail review panel extends comment period

The deadline has been extended to air concerns about rail service to federal Transport Minister John Baird’s rail freight service review panel.

The panel, formed last September and chaired by former Alberta agriculture minister Walter Paszkowski, is still waiting on the public release of two of six research reports required for Phase 1 of the review.

All six reports were due to be released by Jan. 29. The panel’s previous deadline of Feb. 26 for submissions from rail industry stakeholders, such as farmers, farm groups and commodity shippers, was set based on the Jan. 29 deadline.

“Stakeholders will be advised of the revised due date once the last Phase 1 report has been released,” Paszkowski and fellow panelists David Edison and Bill LeGrow wrote in a Jan. 28 letter to stakeholders.

The panel, whose own final report is due sometime in mid-2010, wrote that it plans to give stakeholders four weeks to forward their submissions after the release of the last Phase 1 report.

“We regret the delay, but believe it is important for stakeholders to have access to all of the Phase 1 reports and an adequate time for review before submissions are due to the panel,” the panel wrote in its letter.

Nine written submissions have already been made to the panel.

As per the terms of the review, first announced by then-minister Lawrence Cannon in April 2008, the review panel is expected to propose recommendations to address “problems and issues with respect to service within the rail-based logistics system.”

The recommendations, which can include both commercial and, if need be, regulatory solutions, are meant to aim at improving the “efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of service within the system, facilitating economic growth and trade expansion, and improving accountability among stakeholders.”

Details on the submission process, including an online submission option, are available at the Transport Canada website.

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