Disputes about level of service (rail)

The Agency can help to resolve rail service disputes between a shipper and a railway company.

A railway company has service obligations for carrying traffic for shippers, which includes furnishing adequate and suitable accommodation for loading, receiving, carrying, delivering, and unloading traffic.

What's new

Under the Canada Transportation Act (Act), the Agency determines whether a railway company is fulfilling its service obligation.

The amendments to the Act clarify that adequate and suitable service is the highest level of service that can reasonably be provided in the circumstances. The amended Act clarifies the factors that must be applied in considering what is reasonable. In making this determination, the Agency takes into consideration the following factors:

  1. the traffic to which the service obligations relate;
  2. the reasonableness of the shipper’s requests with respect to the traffic;
  3. the service that the shipper requires with respect to the traffic;
  4. any undertaking with respect to the traffic given by the shipper to the company;
  5. the company’s and the shipper’s operational requirements and restrictions;
  6. the company’s obligations, if any, with respect to a public passenger service provider;
  7. the company’s obligations in respect of the operation of the railway under this Act;
  8. the company’s contingency plans to allow it to fulfil its service obligations when faced with foreseeable or cyclical events; and
  9. any information that the Agency considers relevant. The Agency can help to resolve complaints that a railway company is not fulfilling its service obligations.

For a full description of railway company service obligations, read sections 113-116 of the Canada Transportation Act.

Dispute resolution services

You could use a quick and relatively informal process to resolve your dispute:

  1. Facilitation
  2. Mediation

Or you could use a more formal process:

  1. Arbitration
  2. Adjudication

Facilitation, mediation and adjudication are free services.

See the overview and FAQs for a comparison of the dispute resolution options. If you're not sure about which option to choose, you can contact us via e-mail or using our 1-877-850-7148 Rail Help Line anytime to see how we can help.

How to submit an application

The application is an important step in the adjudication process – it is your principal opportunity to set out your arguments and provide evidence in support of your case. It is your responsibility to include sufficiently detailed and persuasive evidence to prove your case. To learn more about filing an application, see section 18 of the Annotated Dispute Adjudication Rules.

If you want to file an application in a different format, you are responsible for providing all the information set out in Schedule 5 and following all filing requirements set out in the Annotated Dispute Adjudication Rules.

Subsection 18(1) of the Annotated Dispute Adjudication Rules states that an application must contain the information referred to in Schedule 5, including:

  1. the parties' name and contact information;
  2. a clear statement of the issues;
  3. a full description of the facts;
  4. the relief claimed; and
  5. the arguments in support of the application.

Section 116 of the Act, specifies the Agency's timeline for completing its investigations into level of service complaints. The timeline has been reduced from 120 days to 90 days.

The Act also specifies that a railway company must be given at least 20 days to file its answer to the application and the shipper must be given at least 10 days to file its reply.

What happens next?

If the Agency decides to hear your application by way of oral hearing:

The Agency will review your application and will notify you and the railway company in writing when the application has been accepted as complete. The Agency will provide you with additional details about the next steps in the processing of the case, including the timelines for the filing of the answer by the railway company and the reply by the shipper, as well as the period within which an oral hearing is expected to be convened. All oral hearings convened in relation to level of service complaints will be held in the National Capital Region.

Learn more about how adjudication works. In addition, Find out more in the Procedures and Principles With Respect to Oral Hearings.

If the Agency decides to hear your application by way of written pleadings:

The Agency will review your application and will notify you and the railway company in writing when the application has been accepted as complete and inform you of the next steps in the processing of your case, including the timelines for the filing of the answer by the railway company and the reply by the shipper.

Learn more about how adjudication works.


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