Poland-Belarus border closes for trucks, trains keep running
From Thursday 1 June, cargo that originates from Russia or Belarus will no longer be able to cross the border between Poland and Belarus by truck. For rail freight, the border remains open. It is the latest in a series of border restrictions that are implemented as a result of the war in Ukraine, having an impact on the supply chain in the region.
The Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration of Poland stated on Monday 29 May: “From midnight on June 1 (Thursday), the movement of goods across the border with the Republic of Belarus for trucks, tractors, trailers, including semi-trailers and road trains registered in the territory of the Republic of Belarus or the Russian Federation will be suspended until further notice.”
Shift to rail?
Despite the fact that certain cargo from Russia and Belarus is sanctioned, there is still a steady flow of traffic between these countries and Europe. The border closure for truckers will have a significant impact on these flows.
At the same time, it may result in a spillover to rail freight, as trains will be allowed to cross the border after 1 June. “We may expect some shift to rail, especially for cargo originating in Western Europe. For long distance haulage rail might be a favourable alternative”, said Jakub Walczak from CH Robinson.
However, also rail freight between Poland and Belarus has seen the impact of the war. Apart from sanctions on certain types of goods, there are self-imposed restrictions by states, manufacturers and railway companies alike. Whereas certain states have committed to phasing out cargo flows to and from the mentioned countries (such as Estonia), there are quite a lot of companies that have stopped transiting through Russia and Belarus.
The Polish-Belarusian border is unlikely to close for rail freight, however. This is due to the fact that the border is a critical junction on the New Silk Road, which connects many European and Asian cities by rail. Traffic volumes along this route may have declined, but have never stopped.