More cargo on Ukraine-Poland rail, this time it could be coal

Photo: Pixabay. Michael Gaida

The Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal discussed the possibility that Ukraine could open the quotas for coal export to Poland and mobilise some million tons of the fuel, probably by rail. A few days ago, the Polish prime minister decided that state-owned railway company PKP would prioritise coal transport and assist in importing volumes from other countries.

The fact that Poland’s decision and Ukraine’s consideration coincide in time does not seem like a game of chance. In fact, the origin of the coal that PKP would carry to Poland was unclear so far. However, as the Ukrainian prime minister stated in his country’s media, the Ukrainian coal production in September accounted for 100,000 tons, “which are now critically needed by our Polish partners”. He added that coal reserves in Ukrainian warehouses are almost 2 million tons, 2,5 times more than last year”.

As a result, demand and supply go hand in hand in this case. Poland needs coal, while Ukraine has an excess to provide to its neighbours. The remaining question concerns the transport mode that will carry coal between the two countries. Their synergy so far and the Polish commitment to put coal on trains hint that rail will undertake this task as well.

One could argue that the Polish-Ukrainian border is already congested and bending under grain export pressure. Yet, PKP reassured last week that it has enough equipment and rolling stock to carry coal volumes without a problem. In the meantime, unverified sources claimed that Poland and Ukraine imposed some traffic restrictions on grain and other crops’ transport because the Polish side could not handle the traffic overload.

It is unclear whether this decision indeed applies. However, even if it does, it should not be a point of concern. Similar restrictions have been in place before since the war in Ukraine started in an attempt to regulate the train flows and alleviate the congested border crossings that see wagons waiting to cross them for days or weeks.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

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

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