The Spanish railway operator, Renfe Mercancías, has sent an experimental train with 25 containers and big bags to Poland to transport 600 tons of corn via an alternative route that bypasses Ukrainian seaports.

The CFTS portal reported this, citing the Interfax Ukraine news agency. 

The Spanish Ministry of Transport, Mobility, and Urban Development launched the route on 9 August as an alternative and supplement to the maritime route for transporting grain from Ukraine in the context of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine.

It is a piloted trip that the ministry seeks to use to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of transporting grain by rail from Lodz (Poland) to Barcelona (Spain).

According to the ministry, the train will travel along the route Madrid – Ludwigshafen – Duisburg – Lodz – Chelm and the route Chelm – Lodz – Duisburg – Barcelona on return journey. The distance is approximately 2,400 kilometers. It plans to transport the goods between Ukraine and Spain with transshipment in the city of Chelm, which is 25 kilometers from the border with Ukraine.

According to the ministry, the Renfe Mercancías containers will arrive in Chelm on 22-28 August to be loaded with Ukrainian corn and processed for subsequent transfer to the Kombiverkehr logistics operator’s terminal in Lodz. It will be transported between Lodz and Chelm by the Polish railway operator, DBP.

After the containers are loaded, the train will travel on European-gauge tracks from Lodz to Barcelona. From the grain terminal in Barcelona, the product will be delivered to the buyer. The arrival of the pilot batch in Barcelona is scheduled for the beginning of September. 

"The first phases of this pilot project coincide with the opening of [Ukraine’s] Black Sea ports and the establishment of maritime grain routes monitored by Turkey. Therefore, 600 tons of corn will be transported on the test trip, a smaller volume than originally planned. At the same time, it is important to test the viability of the Spanish railway solution as support for the Ukrainian maritime transport industry," the ministry said.

The pilot project, which focuses on analyzing the possibilities of overland transport as an alternative to maritime exports from Ukraine, will be implemented through public-private coordination between representatives of the European Union’s transport and raw materials industries.