The Canadian National Railway is fighting proposed regulations demanded by shippers who want to get cheaper rates from the railway, says CN chief executive Claude Mongeau, who urges the federal government not to interfere in the rail industry.
Mr Mongeau said shippers' proposals were like guaranteeing a window seat to airline passengers, or a spot in business class when they only paid economy fares.
He asked the federal government to allow for commercial solutions, and said that both railways (Canadian Pacific) have stepped up to improve service in the aftermath of the review.
But the Conservative government has appointed a facilitator to meet with representatives from the railways and shippers to determine the best way to move forward with recommendations of the Rail Freight Service Review.
A report is expected in the coming days from the facilitator, and the federal government said it remains committed to tabling a bill this fall that would grant shippers a right to a service agreement, and a process to establish one, should commercial negotiations fail, as a result of that process.
Part of the issue is that the railways and their customers are unable to reach an agreement on what should be contained in these service agreements or the dispute resolution mechanism, reports Toronto's Financial Post.
Said Mr Mongeau: "Unfortunately those shippers are looking for regulatory leverage. They want to be able to get leverage through Ottawa to obtain outcomes that might not be possible in normal commercial negotiations."
Coalition of Rail Shippers chairman Bob Ballantyne said customers were more concerned during negotiations that the railways wouldn't agree to any standardised measures, according to the Shipping Gazette.