Recent History 2000-2002
March 27, 2000
DAWSON CREEK — Although better than it used to be, there is room for improvement in the way grain is handled by the rail carriers in Dawson Creek according to a BC Rail representative.
Speaking at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon Thursday, Wayne Banks, BC Rail’s vice president of business development said that the volume of grain carried by the railway has grown steadily since 1995 and that a reciprocal access agreement with CN Rail, reached in October 1997, has been a factor.
But there have been stumbling blocks. It still took until July 1999 before BC Rail was able to service grain handling facilities along CN line east of 17th Street. Banks attributed the delay to CN’s shortlining efforts within its Grande Prairie subdivision.
Moreover, CN still retains the marketing and pricing rights for their Dawson Creek customers.
CN has been approached about relinquishing those rights, but Banks said that in light of the current federal review of the grain transportation system, which has resulted in the Kruger and Estey reports, he said they’re reluctant to make any major decisions.
Further developing grain handling in Dawson Creek to compete against the so-called super-terminals along the CN line in Rycroft has been complicated by the fact that CN owns most of the land along the rail tracks in the Mile Zero City. “In trying to entice further development and throughput terminals, if we don’t have the property, it’s very difficult for us to do that,” he said.
He said that the super-terminals have given Rycroft an increased share of the rail cars allocated by the Canadian Wheat Board.
But even then, he said it’s an improvement. “… while (the reciprocal agreement) perhaps hasn’t accomplished everything that the expectations were, it has improved service,” he said.
With one railway able to serve all of the facilities in Dawson Creek, he said BC Rail has stationed a yard crew here and provide train service six days a week.
And as the industry continues to consolidate into key areas, Banks said that BC Rail firmly believes that Dawson Creek will be one of those areas. “We would like to work with the city and with the area to determine what we can do to enhance Dawson Creek as a key distribution point for grain,” he said.