Ukrainian agrarians want a broad gauge connection to Gdansk
The All-Ukrainian Agrarian Council (BAP) and the All-Ukrainian Agrarian Forum (VAF) asked the Polish government to build railway lines equipped with the Russian broad rail gauge. With this appeal, Ukrainian agrarians hope to connect Poland, specifically the port of Gdansk, with the Ukrainian and Lithuanian railway networks. The primary purpose of the appeal is to increase the export of agricultural products from Ukraine via Lithuania.
The main current issue is that Lithuania does not transport goods through Belarus since the war started. The alternative route is through Poland, which is only partly equipped with broad gauge railway, mostly in the southeast, far from the border with Lithuania. “Due to differences in the gauge between Poland, Ukraine, and the Baltic countries, there is a need to reload the contents of wagons at border crossings between the countries or rearrange wagon bogies,” said BAP.
By equipping Polish railways with the 1,520 millimetres gauge, this problem would likely be solved, the parties state. Moreover, building such a connection, according to the BAP, would also boost the shift to rail when it comes to trade among the three countries. For example, it would decongest border crossings and the port of Klaipeda, in Lithuania, one of the closest European ports to Ukraine.
A collective Ukrainian appeal to make rail more competitive
The appeal was submitted to Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Signatories of the document were the Ukrainian Agrarian Council, the Agrarian Union of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club, the All-Ukrainian Association of Communities, the Union of Poultry Breeders of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation.
The request would increase the attractiveness of rail transport in the area. As the BAP pointed out, road transport for bulk cargo over long distances is not the optimal solution, considering it is often more expensive than rail. On the other hand, the appeal seems to be slightly counter-current with the EU’s idea of spreading the European gauge to eastern European countries. In fact, it comes after the European Commission amended the TEN-T proposal to extend four corridors to Ukraine and Moldova.