“It is necessary to come to terms with the diversity of infrastructure and rolling stock between Poland and Ukraine and look for ways to neutralize the obstacle it creates.” This was stated in the report of the Polish consulting company TOR on Polish-Ukrainian railway relations. Railway Supply magazine wrote about it, citing RailFreight.


“In order to eliminate barriers effectively, it is first necessary to be aware of their origin, as the apparent difference in track gauge is not the only one and by no means the most time-consuming to overcome,” the report states. The barriers that currently exist are cited as operator territorial restrictions, customs procedures, gauge and power systems, among others.

There are several barriers that simply exist because of bureaucracy, the consultant writes in the report. “The licensing of a railway undertaking has traditionally covered the territory of a single state, European Union regulations hardly overcome this boundary, but within the Union. The approval of rolling stock is following a similar path and the common European register is only just beginning to operate.”

Transportation of Ukrainian grain by rail becomes cheaper

If this is an obstacle within the EU, all the more so at the border with Ukraine. It leads to limitations on the territorial coverage of operators and certification of rolling stock. But it also leads to complicated customs procedures, requiring a lot of time at the border.

Joint Polish-Ukrainian companies have been proposed as a solution. Launching a European branch of Ukrzaliznytsia would be a good step in this direction. In the long term, Ukraine’s integration into the EU space should overcome the structural limit by allowing rail operators to operate in the EU and in Ukraine.

In addition to bureaucracy, there are also technical obstacles to unimpeded rail traffic. The widely discussed gauge change is just one of them. The railroads in Poland are mostly 1,435 mm wide, while in the former Soviet Union the gauge is 1,520 mm. From the border with Ukraine comes a broad gauge branch that ends in Slavkov, but this amounts to only 567 km of 1520 mm gauge lines in Poland.

The difference in gauge has limitations for rolling stock that can run on both sides of the network, but that is not the only limitation. There is a great variety of rolling stock, and with it a great variety of couplings. Not all couplers can run on both sides of the border. And there is a difference in electric traction power systems.

In the case of newly built locomotives and electric multiple units, it is becoming easier and easier to build traction vehicles of two or more systems, thanks to modern strong current electronics, but rolling stock is very diverse and cannot be replaced overnight. Therefore, time losses at the border are inevitable. Investments in new rolling stock must take into account all of these barriers, the report notes.

Rail news you may have missed:

Russian Railways is looking for new solutions for fastening and placing containers in gondola cars

Find the latest news of the railway industry in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the rest of the world on our page on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, read Railway Supply magazine online.

Place your ads on webportal and in Railway Supply magazine. Detailed information is in Railway Supply media kit