Major rail freight players send aid trains to Ukraine

Several intermodal operators set up humanitarian corridors by sending aid trains to Ukraine. Among them, two major companies, DB Cargo and SBB Cargo International, utilise their logistics networks and launch trains with relief supplies for people in need.

The war in Ukraine sparked a humanitarian and refugee crisis in which the rail freight industry does not remain uninvolved. After a humanitarian aid corridor set up by Ukrainian Railways in cooperation with Ukrainian and Polish companies and the European Business Association, big rail freight companies also support people in need by using their means.

Rail bridge to Ukraine

DB Cargo and DB Schencker combine their rail and truck services to transport aid supplies directly from Germany to Ukraine. “Thousands of tons of food, drinking water and sanitary items are brought directly into the country by truck and freight train. Donations are collected in Germany by truck, packed in containers and finally transported across the border to Ukraine by freight trains in DB Cargo’s European rail network”, says DB Cargo.

Cargo is collected from major German hubs like Hamburg, Lehrte, Cologne, Mannheim, Nuremberg and Munich and after being consolidated in Berlin, it’s sent to Ukraine via Poland. “This is made possible thanks to a cooperation between the Polish subsidiary of DB Cargo, the Ukrainian railways, and the DB Schenker teams on-site in Poland”, says DB Cargo.

DB Cargo’s humanitarian rail network. Source: Deutsche Bahn.

Freight trains play a critical role in the situation since roads leading to Ukraine via Poland are currently overloaded with traffic. “Colleagues tell us that the road infrastructure and border crossings between Poland and Ukraine are completely overloaded, and there is a lack of truck drivers driving to Ukraine. However, freight trains can get through, and a single train can transport up to 52 containers and thus bring urgently needed relief supplies to terminals in the east and west of Ukraine that are still functioning”, underlines Sigrid Nikutta, Head of DB Cargo.

Free of charge logistics

SBB Cargo International is also contributing its help in alleviating the humanitarian crisis. The Swiss-based company announced on its LinkedIn page that it organises trains from Herne in the Ruhr valley to the Ukrainian border. The company underlined that transporting products from Switzerland to Ruhr and onwards to Ukraine is still impossible.

However, it provides free of charge logistics services between Germany and Ukraine and calls upon everyone willing to contribute to send their “containers and cranable trailers with relief goods”. From Herne, SBB Cargo International can undertake their transport “as quick as possible”.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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