The Spanish railway infrastructure operator ADIF and the Ukrainian Railways joint-stock company (JSC Ukrzaliznytsia) will develop a pilot project to implement the technology for automatically changing the width of wheelsets of freight wagons at Ukraine’s western border crossings.

Ukrzaliznytsia announced this in a statement, the CFTS portal reports.

The corresponding memorandum was signed between Ukrzaliznytsia and ADIF.

"One of the important tasks of the infrastructure team is to reach export figures that are steady at the 2021 level. Resolving the technological issues related to the replacement of wheelsets will significantly revive the flow of goods and passengers between Ukraine and EU countries," said Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister for Reconstruction and Minister of Development of Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov.

The technology, which was previously developed by Spain to enable trains to switch from the country’s traditional 1668 mm track gauge to the 1435 mm track gauge of its new lines, will be adapted to enable trains to automatically switch their wheelsets between the 1520 mm, 1435 mm, and 1668 mm track gauges.

According to Ukrzaliznytsia’s Board Chairman Yevhen Liaschenko, all the possible technological solutions are being implemented to create a continuous logistics process for transporting goods between Ukraine and the European Union.

He added that with different track gauges of 1435 mm and 1668 mm, Spanish railways have been successfully implementing technological solutions to minimize the impact of track differences for a long time and that Ukrzaliznytsia is ready to work with ADIF to expand this technology to Ukrainian rolling stock. These are the technologies implemented in systems for automatically changing track gauges for passenger and freight wagons.

"The implementation of such a task is a rather complex technological project that takes time, but it is much faster and cheaper than rebuilding the basic infrastructure to the 1435 mm track gauge. This is another step in the integration of Ukrzaliznytsia into the European transportation network," said Liaschenko.

Ukrzaliznytsia and ADIF also agreed to work together to secure funding for this project from the European Union.

As the CFTS portal previously reported, in July 2023, representatives of Ukrzaliznytsia, the Spanish government, and Spanish businesses discussed the possibility of deploying the Spanish-developed variable gauge system in Ukraine.

Representatives of Ukrzaliznytsia held a meeting with the management of the French engineering company Alstom during the international trade fair "Transport Logistic 2023" held in Munich in May 2023 to discuss the implementation of modern technological solutions for the integration of rail freight transport into the European system. In particular, they discussed the possibility of integrating the sliding system for switching from 1435 mm to 1520 mm track gauge developed by the Spanish company Tria into railway wagons in Ukraine.