The railway sector of Ukraine continues to develop in the conditions of war
Ukraine’s rail sector continues to evolve amid the ongoing war with Russia and the resulting massive damage to the country’s rail infrastructure. Compared to energy infrastructure facilities and nuclear power plants, UZ has “greater mobility”. Despite the fact that more than 40 percent of the country’s railway infrastructure is damaged, it is constantly being repaired. This means that there is currently no threat of suspension of railway activities. Railway Supply magazine writes about this with reference to RailFreight.
Since the beginning of the war, the railway infrastructure has been the target of military attacks. Since February 24, 2022, more than 6,000 km of railway tracks have been damaged or out of order in Ukraine. According to the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine, a preliminary analysis of the state of railways shows that, on average, about 10 percent of railways are damaged in areas where hostilities took place, and this does not include the occupied regions.
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At the same time, with the beginning of the war, the importance of rail transportation increased significantly. The railway allowed the evacuation of almost 7 million people from the eastern and central regions of the country to its western borders and abroad, and ensured the regular supply of humanitarian and military supplies.
“It is important to restore the railway connections with the de-occupied cities, because this brings life back to them. As soon as we restore passenger traffic, we will look for a way to restore cargo traffic,” said the head of the UZ, Alexander Kamyshin. He added that while the urgency is high, recovery could take years and significant funds. According to last year’s estimates, the restoration of destroyed railways costs an average of 29 million hryvnia per 1 km of the road. Despite the ongoing continuous restoration of the Ukrainian railway network, experts believe that the current state of the Ukrainian railway transport system is comparable to what it was in the first year of World War II.
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This all explains the reduction in the volume of goods transported by UZ. Despite a clear increase in demand for rail transportation of grain following the introduction of restrictions on maritime transport, this has not led to an increase in the amount of goods transported by rail. In 2022, the railway company transported 28.9 million tons of grain, which is 14.2% less than in 2021. As for the total cargo traffic, the volumes transshipped by Ukrzaliznytsia fell by half (49.8%) in the first ten months of the year compared to the same period last year – to 129.8 million tons.
Another problem in the development of rail transport is the availability of rolling stock. Before the war, one of the main problems of the Ukrainian railway industry was the high level of wear and tear of the rolling stock. Half of the Ukrzaliznytsya fleet was produced before 1970. The park even has VL8 electric locomotives, which are 65 years old. To solve this problem, UZ attracted significant investments in the modernization of its fleet from both domestic and foreign businesses. However, this was before the war. In recent months, such contracts have been suspended.
Despite these problems, the Ukrainian railway business continues to develop. What is damaged can be restored, and what has been stopped can be resumed. Therefore, it is not surprising that Ukrzaliznytsia received the Rail Champion Award organized by UNIFE and CER.
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