Friday, February 24, 2006

Time to Nationalize CN

CN has reported a record number of accidents, Duh Oh, this past year.

Number of CN derailments jumped in 2005: report CN derailments rise 35 per cent

As I have reported here, it's because CN our once national railway was privatised.
It is fast becoming a North American monopoly and it sacrificing public and worker safety for the bottom line. Under the direction of its American CEO. Earlier this week, CN reported a record profit of $1.56-billion for 2005.
According to a Globe and Mail report Monday, railway mega-merger speculation may be back on the agenda. Regulatory concerns prevented a merger between Canadian National Railway Co. and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp. in 2000. But CPR President Robert Ritchie told reporters that after a six-year hiatus, the CN-BN pairing could re-emerge, or another combination involving CN, reports the Globe. Ritchie added that CPR's philosophy is to work as a network industry and not isolate itself into two systems, which would probably be the end result of further consolidation. That would produce too much angst on the part of customers, which would lead to negative regulation, he told reporters.
Numerous co-operative agreements between railways have been signed in recent months on shared trackage, with aim to ease congestion. The big question is whether regulators could in future scenarios be persuaded that mergers would clear the way for railways to reduce freight rates and improve service.One theory holds that freight rates would fall in a more efficient freight network with fewer territorial players.

CN is still looking at swallowing up more of it's competitors south of the border. Which will not reduce freight rates, contrary to popular opinion, and given its past practice will only mean further speed ups, reduced staffing and more accidents as CN pushes just in time delivery for the bottom line.

Julian calls for public inquiry into Canada's rail safety

Burnaby - Peter Julian, MP (Burnaby-New Westminster) and NDP Transportation Critic, called on Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon to exercise his power under the Railway Safety Act

and conduct an inquiry into the safety of Canada’s railways.

“The former Liberal government’s last attempt to deal with this matter was to ask CN to develop its own proposals,” Mr. Julian said. “With a significant increase in accidents and fatalities, the Conservative government should take meaningful action now.”

Railway safety track records have been steadily declining in recent years. Between 2000-2004 there were 11.67 accidents per million train-miles, by 2005 the number of accidents increased to 13.04. Fatalities have also increased significantly.

“We know that many derailments in BC and Alberta have been linked to the length of trains,” Mr. Julian said. ”We also know that there have been a number of violations of the Railway Safety Act, some of which railway operators have readily admitted to. The Conservative government must urgently and immediately take up the responsibility for the public’s safety from their Liberal predecessors.”

Privatization, deregulation, self regulation, all the neo-conservative solutions that the Liberals introduced in the ninties as they Reinvented Government have failed. The privatization of CN has put public safety at risk, lead to massive layoffs, and put public money into private pockets. Its time to put CN back under workers and community control to renationalize it. After all its making money now, rather than losing it as it did relying on taxpayer subsidization.

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