A New 20-member Advocacy Organization Seeks to Address Rail Service Inequities
EDMONTON, Alberta – The Community Rail Advocacy Alliance (CRAA) brings together 20 unique voices across municipalities, industry representatives from agriculture and forestry, and regional economic advocacy groups to advocate for better rail service across Alberta and Western Canada.
“We’ve seen a real concern in communities across the region, especially as businesses have had to adjust employee schedules and operations thanks to the inability to access railcars,” remarked Reeve Corinna Williams of Northern Sunrise County. “If we don’t see things change, we’re concerned for our economic future. This is why we are committed to CRAA and our fellow members advocating for change.”
Previously, members have worked individually to advocate for key legislative and regulatory changes in the rail industry without success. By joining together, members are hopeful that their unified, collaborative voice will be heard by Ottawa, CN, CP, and its regulators.
“With railway legislation under the federal government’s responsibility, we have yet to see much action in addressing the inequality in service delivery,” said Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton. “Grande Prairie is home to some of our province’s biggest industries, and the failure to provide reliable rail service has significantly impacted our industries’ capacity to import and export goods.”
Currently, railways throughout Alberta face unevenly deployed resources, insufficient seasonal service, and unreliable capacity that fails to adequately serve several industries across the province. The Alliance is bringing forward priority areas it hopes to get addressed, including mandating rail companies release data on car fulfilment statistics and developing a strategy to manage service levels during the winter months.
“Alberta is home to some of the best agricultural land in the country, but that doesn’t do us any good when we can’t access reliable transportation to export our crops,” explains Tom Steve, General Manager of the Alberta Wheat and Barley Commissions. “Something has to change if we want to see farmers remain competitive in global markets, and we’re all hoping this Alliance can be part of the solution.”
With its 20 members so far, CRAA members represent over 300,000 Albertans, nearly 1,500 businesses and economies that contribute over $90 billion to Alberta’s total GDP. The constant challenges accessing equitable, reliable railcar services have resulted in lost economic opportunities. Agriculture, petrochemical, oil and gas, forestry, mining, and manufacturing sectors have seen significant lost revenues attributed to challenges with railcar service. CRAA members and those they represent want to share their resources with the world but require rail systems that support that participation.
“The past several years have shown how fragile and vital our supply chains are. We want to see significant investment in our railway network for strengthened infrastructure, rolling stock, and human resources to keep Alberta’s and Canada’s supply chains on track,” stated Brock Mulligan, Senior Vice President of Alberta Forest Products Association. “Despite municipal boundaries, industry goals, or private interests, we all want Alberta to have equitable, reliable railcar access to support our economies and communities.”
About the Community Rail Advocacy Alliance: The Community Rail Advocacy Alliance (CRAA) is a coalition of 20 counties, municipalities, and associations impacted by Alberta’s inequitable and undersupplied rail services. For more information, visit their website: www.railforward.ca.
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