December 13th, 2023
NDP Transport Critic tables bill to give passenger trains priority
NDP Transport Critic Taylor Bachrach (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) tables private member’s bill C-371, the Rail Passenger Priority Act, to give passenger trains priority on railway tracks.
OTTAWA: Today in Parliament, NDP Transport Critic Taylor Bachrach (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) tabled private member’s bill C-371, the Rail Passenger Priority Act, which would give passenger trains priority when they share the tracks with freight.
“Canada lags behind much of the world when it comes to passenger rail,” said Bachrach. “One of the key things holding us back is the fact that Canadian passenger trains have to frequently pull off and make way for freight trains, resulting in poor on-time performance. My bill aims to address that problem."
In October, VIA Rail CEO Mario Péloquin suggested Canada should pass legislation to give passenger trains priority, as a federal law in the U.S. already does.
VIA Rail owns only three percent of railway tracks in Canada. The remainder are owned by private railway companies, with 48.8 percent owned by CN Rail and 29.1 percent owned by CP Rail. While VIA's on-time performance on tracks it owns is over 90 percent, that drops to 60 percent on tracks VIA doesn't own.
“Every Canadian who has ridden the passenger train in the past decade knows how bad things have gotten," said Bachrach. "It's tragic that successive federal governments have allowed privatization and deregulation to undermine such an important service. My bill would put rail passengers first and help Canada get back on track."
Starting Sunday, MP Bachrach will be taking the train from Toronto to British Columbia. Along the way, he will be sharing the Rail Passenger Priority Act and discussing the future of passenger rail in Canada.