The establishment of a competitive alternative route for delivering Ukrainian agricultural and rolled metal products to seaports in the Baltic States, as well as for importing fuel into Ukraine by rail, could be a promising long-term strategy.

Yevhen Liaschenko, the board chairman of the Ukrainian Railways joint-stock company (Ukrzaliznytsia), stated this during a meeting with representatives of Lithuanian Railways, the CFTS portal reports, citing Ukrzaliznytsia.

Liaschenko outlined the problematic issues related to the development of this route.

"We need to address the tariff and infrastructure components of this route. It should become competitive in terms of cost, compared with the route to Polish ports. In the first phase, we need to obtain EU subsidies to cover the difference in tariffs and implement several infrastructure improvements to increase its throughput capacity, primarily the construction of bogie exchange points because we have to change wheelsets twice on the route to match the track gauge. The track gauge in Ukraine and Lithuania is 1520 millimeters and the track gauge in Poland is 1435 millimeters," said the head of Ukrzaliznytsia.

According to him, it is also necessary to transfer control functions, including phytosanitary control, to the cargo destination. This will also facilitate safe and fast transit, he said.

"If we manage to implement the first phase and interest customers in regular transportation through the port of Klaipeda, the next step may be to develop Ukraine's rail links with the Baltic ports as part of the European Union’s Solidarity Lanes initiative," Ukrzaliznytsia said in a statement.

According to the statement, in order to fulfill the set tasks, a plan for the implementation of railway projects is already being drafted jointly with member countries of the European Union. In particular, for the first time in history, the European Union has allocated funds to Ukraine for the implementation of railway projects for the development and construction of the most promising border crossings.

As previously reported, Lithuania’s Minister of Transport and Communications Marius Skuodis has said that economic assistance from the European Union is needed to transport Ukrainian grain through the port in Klaipeda (Lithuania). "If the economic issue is resolved, then the political decisions on the procedures to reduce the transportation time are already in place. Even if all this had worked out, we would already be facing infrastructure challenges. But we have not even reached that point yet," Skuodis said.