Claude Mongeau, President and Chief Executive Officer of CN  said CN is a true backbone of the Canadian economy and can play a major role in helping to advance the nation’s trade ambitions.

Mongeau told the Vancouver Board of Trade’s Pacific Gateway Forum 2012 that the economic significance of CN and its innovative business agenda support Canada’s export potential.  “Vancouver is a major gateway for CN’s export-based traffic. Roughly C$85 billion worth of goods move to global markets annually over CN’s network, with about 30 per cent of CN’s carloads being tied to exports to the U.S. and offshore markets. This means we’re a major player in Canada’s trade and prosperity, and that global trade is very important to our business as well.” Mongeau said CN’s agenda of supply chain collaboration, its commitment to operational and service excellence, and focus on seamless end-to-end transportation solutions support growth of gateways such as Vancouver help make CN customers more competitive in their end markets, at home and abroad.

That agenda is built on CN and supply chain stakeholders coming together to make changes that are driven by commercial forces, he said. Marked improvements have been seen across a number of CN business segments, including grain, which is currently running at record levels, and intermodal, which has grown by more than 65 per cent on the West Coast since 2009.

“We’ve got a good thing going here,” Mongeau said. “We have world-class rail service and the lowest freight rates among OECD countries. We strongly encourage the Canadian government to stay the course with a commercial approach to rail service. Additional regulation could stifle innovation and chill the positive momentum we’ve developed.

“But if the government decides to legislate railway-customer service agreements, the new rules should be balanced and targeted. “CN believes such legislation should absolutely require mediation as a first step to give commercial solutions a better chance to prevail. The rules should also require the Canadian Transportation Agency itself – not a roster of arbitrators – to arbitrate any service dispute, so as to limit the possibility of unintended consequences damaging Canada’s rail network. And arbitration should only be available to rail customers who depend on a single railroad, in line with the shippers’ call that regulation act as a ‘backstop’ to address cases where they claim railway market power is an issue.”