The Heroes of Shipka ferry will begin test operation next week. Anton Sabolevskyi, the director of strategic development and investment policy at the Ukrainian Railways public joint-stock company (Ukrzaliznytsia), announced this at a roundtable at the Ministry of Infrastructure, the CFTS correspondent reports.

"We plan to test-launch the Heroes of Shipka ferry next week to see the economy of the vessel because the equipment is old. It will be in operation for 3-4 months, after which we will make a decision on repair of the second ferry," he said.

According to him, Ukrzaliznytsia should not be expected to offer much cheaper freight transportation compared with its competitors because the prices on the market are not inflated.

"The tariff policy here is understandable: we have calculated the cost and seen that the rates that Ukrferry and the Bulgarian Shipping Company currently offer are in line with the market. That is, we cannot significantly reduce the cost of transportation by ferry," Sabolevskyi said.

In addition to the Heroes of Shipka ferry, Ukrzaliznytsia operates the Heroes of Plevna ferry. The Black Sea Shipping Company operated these ferries until the early 1990s. The ferries were leased to the Ukrferry shipping company in the 2000s. The State Property Fund transferred the ferries to Ukrzaliznytsia in December 2015. The Heroes of Shipka ferry underwent repairs from 2016 to 2017.

A third-party company is expected to take over the ferries under a bareboat charter agreement. 

Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelian believes that a ferry line using Ukrzaliznytsia’s fleet of vessels could be launched in 2018.