Shipment term

Romania seeks to revive Soviet-era rail line to boost shipments to Ukraine

The work should last two months

April 27, 2022

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2 minute read

Romania has launched a tender to rehabilitate a Soviet-era railway line linking its port of Galati on the Danube to Ukraine to help boost grain exports, Reuters reported, citing its transport minister. The Minister expects the work to last two months.

Ukraine’s seaports have been blocked since Russia invaded the country two months ago and the main agricultural producer has been forced to export by train via its western border or via its smaller Danube river ports to Romania.

But Ukraine’s rail network uses Russian gauge measuring around 1.5 meters, about 10 centimeters wider than the tracks used in most of Europe, which has caused further delays.

Galati has a disused Soviet-era railway line to Ukraine via Moldova with a wider gauge that would allow Ukrainian goods to be easily shipped to the Romanian port.

Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu said the deadline for the tender for the rehabilitation of the line was May 19. The work could then take two months, he said.

“This railway line will allow the transport of goods to and from Ukraine,” he said. “This Danubian port will become, together with the port of Constanta, one of the key places in the region for the transport of goods and raw materials.”

Ukraine has so far sent around 80,000 tonnes of grain to Romania’s Black Sea port of Constanta, with more expected to arrive, the port director said on Tuesday. Grain arrives by train or barge via the Danube.

A state in the European Union, Romania shares the borders of the Black Sea – a major maritime artery for grain and oil – with Bulgaria, Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine. Constanta is its largest port.

“There are around 80,000 tons of grain that have already arrived. They are stored in silos, part of which has been loaded onto a ship,” Constanta port director Florin Goidea told Reuters.

“About another 80,000 tons are approved and on their way.”

The port, which has a storage capacity of around 2 million tonnes, handled exports of some 24 million tonnes last year.

Ukrainian border guards last week closed several shipping lanes at the mouth of the Danube due to the presence of drifting mines in the Black Sea.

But speaking in the Romanian capital Bucharest last week, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said it was a chance to boost Danube infrastructure and trade routes.

“This is the real big chance for the Danube to become even more economically profitable, important and to better connect the countries of the Black Sea region with the countries of Western Europe in terms of trade,” he said. .r