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Romania seeks to revive Soviet-era rail line to boost Ukraine shipment

27 April 2022

The work is expected to take two months

Romania has issued a tender to rehabilitate a Soviet-era train line connecting its port of Galati on the Danube river to Ukraine to help boost grain exports, reported Reuters, citing its transport minister. The minister expects the work to take two months.

Ukraine's seaports have been blocked since Russia invaded the country two months ago and the major agricultural producer has been forced to export by train via its western border or via its small Danube river ports into Romania.

But Ukraine's railway network uses a Russian gauge measuring roughly 1.5 metres, or some 10 centimetres wider than the tracks used in most of Europe, which has caused additional delays. 

Galati has a disused Soviet-era rail line to Ukraine via Moldova with the wider gauge that would allow Ukrainian goods to be shipped easily to the Romanian port.

Transport Minister Sorin Grindeanu said the deadline for the tender to rehabilitate the line was May 19. Work could then take two months, he said.

"This rail line will enable the transporting of goods to and from Ukraine," he said. "This Danube port will become, alongside the port of Constanta, one of the key places in the region for transporting goods and raw materials."

Ukraine has sent around 80,000 tonnes of grain to the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta so far, with more expected to arrive, the port's manager said on Tuesday. The grains arrive by train or by barge via the Danube.

European Union state Romania shares the borders of the Black Sea - a major shipping artery for grain and oil - with Bulgaria, Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine. Constanta is its biggest port.

"There are around 80,000 tonnes of grains that have already arrived. They are stored in silos, a part of them were loaded on ship," Constanta Port manager Florin Goidea told Reuters.

"Another roughly 80,000 tonnes are approved and en route."

The port, which has a storage capacity of around 2 millions tones handled exports of some 24 million tonnes last year.

Ukrainian border guards last week closed several shipping lanes at the mouth of the Danube river due to drifting mines in the Black Sea. 

But speaking in the Romanian capital Bucharest last week, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said this was a chance to boost Danube infrastructure and trade routes.

"This is the real big chance for the Danube river to become even more economically profitable, important and to better connect Black Sea region countries with western European countries in terms of trade," he said.

Source: Reuters



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