EUROPE: Deutsche Bahn CEO Richard Lutz and his Ukrainian counterpart Oleksandr Kamyshin signed a memorandum of understanding at InnoTrans on September 20 pledging long-term support and assistance to Ukrainian Railways.
The agreement will help UZ rebuild its network and covers collaboration to expand rail freight corridors and terminal capacity. It also provides for ‘extensive consulting services’ for the introduction of European standards for rail operations and management.
Lutz said that the MoU built on the foundation of the Vienna Declaration, which was signed by the Community of European Railways and European railway CEOs on July 9.
The MoU had three pillars, he continued, the first of which covered infrastructure aimed at improving freight transport; the second was to strengthen ties with the EU with the goal of developing European standards, and the third allocated special importance to freight and the grain bridge.
‘We have the utmost respect for how unwavering and courageous our Ukrainian colleagues have been in doing their jobs under wartime conditions’, he said. ‘A functioning rail system will be essential as Ukraine rebuilds. DB and the entire European rail family are keenly aware of this fact, and we stand in firm support of our colleagues in Ukraine. It is both an honour and a duty to partner with UZ on its pathway to a bright future.’
Kamyshin said ‘in fostering independence from Russia’s harmful influence, reorienting the European rail system to new opportunities needs to be the priority. I am confident that a partnership between DB and UZ can offer major benefits to both sides in expanding freight transport and grain exports to Europe.’
Germany’s Minister for Transport & Digital Dr Volker Wissing promised that the federal government would do everything it could to help. ‘I have been deeply moved by the incredible courage and perseverance which rail employees in Ukraine have shown in transporting countless people to safety and keeping supply chains running in their country, in collaboration with colleagues throughout Europe.’
European Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said that Russia’s war with Ukraine had brought darkness to Europe but that ‘occasionally there is light’.
Rail was involved in the ‘Solidarity Lanes’ established earlier and 2 million tonnes of grain had been exported from Ukraine in August compared with 1·3 million tonnes in April. ‘The Solidarity Lanes are here to stay’, she said.