Ukraine has established a route through Poland and another route through Romania to export grain. The problem is Ukraine’s rail system operates on a different gauge than Poland’s, so the grain has to be transferred to different trains at the border where there are not many transfer or storage facilities.
Grain to Romania involves transport by rail to ports on the Danube River and loading grain onto barges for sailing towards the Black Sea port of Constanta, a complex and costly process.
Ukraine is in talks with Baltic States to add a third corridor for grain exports to the Baltic Sea.
At the start of the war, Constanta port’s infrastructure had about 700 rusty hopper cars blocking tracks and the rail yard rehabilitation works were stalled. Since then, Romania’s state-owned rail freight company has removed around half of the junk cars and has started rehabilitating 35 rail lines in the port, a US$42 million investment. It is also working on rehabilitating both wide and regular gauge railroads connecting Ukrainian territory with Romania’s sea and Danube river ports.
As an EU member, Romania will use EU funds for dredging the Port of Constanta to improve berth depth and to add 17 loading berths in the longer term. Port capacity is up 10-11% so far this year.