Slovak customs snowed under by trains crossing Ukraine border with goods

Trains with goods were stuck at the borders due to freight carriers being limited by operational restrictions at border crossings. The traffic jam on the tracks is caused by the shortage of freight wagons on the Slovak side, Transport Minister Andrej Doležal (Sme Rodina) explained. [Shutterstock/Oscity]

Slovak customs are currently overwhelmed by the increase in trains carrying goods crossing the Ukrainian border as Russia’s blockade on ports has forced Ukraine to deliver goods via train instead.

Trains with goods were stuck at the borders due to freight carriers being limited by operational restrictions at border crossings. The traffic jam on the tracks is caused by the shortage of freight wagons on the Slovak side, Transport Minister Andrej Doležal (Sme Rodina) explained.

“The way it works in peacetime is that a Slovak freight carrier arrives at the border with enough carriages waiting, and the goods are transferred from the Ukrainian train  In times of war, this happens in a chaotic and unmanaged way, so it is natural for trains to pile up. The primary cause is the shortage of wagons,” Doležal said.

Ukraine and Slovakia use different types of rails, so the goods have to be transferred.

However, the ministry is already taking steps to smoothen the process, like providing more wagons and prolonging working hours in the customs office, said Doležal.

The Slovak Association of Railway Carriers has called for other measures such as reinforcing police and customs officers’ ranks as quickly as possible and reducing the inspection time of wagons.

According to Doležal, switching the export of goods like wheat, grain, corn or soybeans from sea to rail will be an “enormously difficult task”  The situation has been made even worse due to a large part of the Ukraine railroad infrastructure having been destroyed, he added.

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