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“Connecting railway infrastructure between Ukraine and the EU provides great trade opportunities”

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the country’s land transport connections with the EU have become key for Ukrainian imports and exports. Therefore, EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes have been created to strengthen the cross-border connections.

The Connecting Europe Facility II has recently selected nine projects for funding that will aim at improving crossing points. The Commission has furthermore proposed to extend the Trans European Network–Transport to Ukraine and Moldova.

The creation of high-speed trans-shipment points on the border with the EU is currently the optimal solution for the “European integration” of Ukrainian railways – founder and owner of the Ukraine’s Aurum Industrial and Investment Group, Alona Lebedieva (picture), comments.

She furthermore stated:

“The construction of new railway corridors with European track width in Ukraine is not sufficient to ensure the integration of the country’s railway system into the EU and requires significant capital investments and additional measures.”

“First of all, in the matter of changing the track gauge, it is worth keeping in mind that it is not just reinstalling the rails.”

“We are also talking about a complete replacement of rolling stock and traction, which in our conditions does not seem realistic, and requiring colossal funds and production capacities.” 

“Our experts at the Aurum Group, investigating this issue, determined that in our current conditions and circumstances the most optimal solution in terms of price and efficiency would be the creation of high-speed trans-shipment points on the border, electrified and equipped with everything necessary, in particular, the necessary number of trolleys fit for different tracks and terminals to conduct trans-shipment from car to car.”

In addition, Alona Lebedieva also highlighted a number of accompanying processes that may not be obvious, but that will affect the railway industry in Ukraine one way:

“The question of the European track, which arose acutely after the outbreak of war, may now appear more urgent than it really is. Most of Ukraine’s international exports were going through the Black Sea ports to the countries of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Goods were (and are) delivered to the ports by the track of the current format. 

“Given the conditions of the enemy blockade of the coast, it is clear that the turnover of goods is redirected by railway to neighbouring countries, such as Poland or Romania, increasing volumes and actualising the issue of transshipment due to the difference in track formats,” – she noted.

“And such an issue as reinstalling the railway track of a different gauge is not about a short-term perspective, but about serious capital investments and a large volume of long-term work.”

Nevertheless, according to Alona Lebedieva, in the long term, taking into account all the nuances, adaptation of Ukrainian production of railway products of a new model and corresponding rolling stock, adaptation of Ukrainian railway norms and standards to European norms – “the unification of our railway networks of Ukraine and Europe will become an additional incentive for bilateral land trade and passenger traffic.”