Ukraine removes customs procedures at rail border-crossing with Moldova
Rail freight along a somehow tricky border-crossing line between Moldova and Ukraine might see its volumes increase. The Ukrainian Parliament recently decided to simplify customs procedures on the Giurgiulesti (MLD) – Reni (UKR) – Etulia (MLD) section. More specifically, cargo coming from Giurgiulesti and Galați Larga (Romania) will cease to be stopped for border and customs procedures at the station in Reni.
This new initiative aims to speed up operations at the Reni-Giurgiulesti and the Frykatsei-Etulia rail border crossings between Ukraine and Moldova, as Ukrainian Railways (UZ) pointed out. This area is quite important for Ukraine because Reni, Giurgiulesti, and Galați are three ports on the Danube River that Ukraine can use as alternatives to the Odessa ports and the rest of its damaged infrastructure.
Geography and borders complicate things
The main challenge on the Giurgiulesti-Reni-Etulia line is that it exits Moldova and then enters it again after briefly crossing southwestern Ukraine, where customs procedures need to be carried out. This line is the only available option because there is no rail infrastructure along the Moldovan southern border. In addition, the section cannot keep running in Ukraine because it stretches along the northwest side of Kahul Lake. Most of the lake is in Ukraine, except for the northeastern tip, which the railway circumnavigates, forcing every train to reenter Moldova in Etulia. With the new plan set out by the Ukrainian government, however, some trains will not have to stop in Reni anymore.
Ukrainian Railways’ international expansion
This is not the first step for Ukraine towards boosting rail freight through southern Moldova. Both Ukraine and Moldova are in the process of integration into the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), which was announced in October 2022. The Berezyne-Basarabeasca cross-border line, for example, was restored at the end of March. This was part of a project led by UZ to open six rail border crossings with Poland and Romania as well.
Moreover, last month, UZ set up Ukrainian Railways Cargo Poland, an international subsidiary that will provide rail freight services suitable for both the standard (1435mm) and wide (1520mm) gauges. When it comes to Poland, it also needs to be mentioned that the two countries agreed on a customs seal for grain coming by rail from Ukraine in March. These seals are to be checked, but not removed, at the border crossings, which leads to shorter waiting times.