The Millstone is printing in its entirety the response of Transport Action Ontario to Ms. Cathy Murphy, Secretary to the Canadian Transport Agency which was sent August 8, 2011.
Dear Ms. Murphy:
Re: Transport Action Ontario Complaint regarding Proposed Discontinuance of Operations by Canadian Pacific between Smiths Falls and Mattawa, Ontario (Chalk River Sub 0.5-115.3 ande North Bay Sub 0.0-70.0)
We have received the Agency decision No. 296-R-2011, dated August 5, 2011, regarding our complaint about the proposed discontinuance of railway operations by the Canadian Pacific(CP) Railway between Smith Falls and Mattawa, Ontario.
We are very disappointed in the Agency conclusion, which held that CP was not required to list these lines on its Three Year Plan.
In our view, the Agency has failed to cite the relevant case about strict formal compliance, and has turned itself inside out to adopt the argument that the listing obligation is something only relevant to operated lines of a railway – instead of reading the legislation progressively, as we argued, that the intent of the Act is to ensure due publication of notice and opportunities of input. This decision opens the door to the possible abuse (not present in this set of facts) that railroads could enter into short-term leases and then take the lines back and go straight to advertisements for discontinuance and never get the lines onto a three year plan, and so avoid the 12 months the lines would have to be on a published plan list.
There continues to be firm commercial interest in operating these lines, but time is needed to develop a business plan and secure investors. Clearly your Agency sensed only minimal public outcry, and succumbed to the commercial pressures from CP, which wanted the steel as soon as possible.
And so, with barely a murmur, Canada will shortly be left with a situation that sees all east-west freight running on a narrow corridor along Lake Ontario next to two nuclear power plants. As you may know, the rail corridor along the Japanese Coast in Fukushima Prefecture is likely lost for a very long period due to its proximity to the damaged Fukushima Dai Ichi nuclear plant. We sincerely hope that a similar accident does not occur in Ontario
President, Transport Action Ontario