PKP Cargo Terminale handles export freight from Ukraine

2022/08/08 at 5:51 PM

The dry port of PKP Cargo Terminale in Medyka has increased the transhipment of export goods from Ukraine in recent months. We talk to Maciej Krochmalski, a member of the management board of PKP Cargo Terminale, about the current situation in freight transport across the Polish eastern border.

Transhipment facility of PKP Cargo Terminale, source: PKP Cargo Terminale

After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the Medyka/Mostyska railway crossing has become one of the key points on the logistics map of our eastern neighbour. What is the role of your terminal in Medyka?

Transhipments at the terminal in Medyka have returned to a high level. All processing capacities are currently used to handle loads exported from Ukraine. The country has a great need to export goods by road due to the blockade of Black Sea ports they have to find some way to handle the export. At the moment, it is urgent to empty the silos in order to be able to fill them with grain from this year’s harvest.

On the other hand, it is important to remove cargo from areas affected by hostilities as soon as possible, before such an opportunity is lost. Currently, our terminal is dominated by iron ore reloading, which accounts for over 90 per cent of the transport work. Moreover, there is reloading of clay, metals and certain amounts of containers. Two years ago, we launched the possibility of handling containerised loads at the terminal, which turned out to be a bull’s eye, as these possibilities are currently being used. We service containers transporting goods shipped from Ukraine.

A big logistic and humanitarian problem is the export of grain from Ukraine. Due to the lack of capacity at border terminals, there were ideas to transport grain in containers. Is this a realistic idea?

Currently, all available means are used to export grain. In the case of containers, it is necessary to establish how the grains are handled. This requires the coordination of all links in the supply chain, from loading grain into a container, through loading the container onto a means of transport and then unloading it. There are two solutions. The first is containers adapted to the transport of grain or other loose goods, which allow loading from the top. Unfortunately, there is little such equipment. The second solution is the use of typical containers, which, however, require the use of additional means of transport, such as big bags on pallets. But this, in turn, requires the use of specialised trolleys that can enter the container or position the load with pallets. However, considering the scale of the cargo that needs to be urgently removed from Ukraine, which is millions of tonnes, overloading it with carts or pallet trucks is rather impossible. We are talking about such a scale of reloading that requires automated solutions.

Currently, consultations on how to remove these loads and unblock logistic chains are ongoing. Much attention has been paid to the question of where to take this grain. It is not difficult to find a terminal that can overload the congregation. It is necessary to determine where this cargo will go next. We have to work out the entire logistics path. At the moment, there is no free storage capacity in Poland that would allow for storing Ukrainian grain. So the cereals that go to our country must be exported further.

Does this problem also apply to other loads?

Yes. A similar situation is with iron ore. A few weeks ago, there was a lot of emphasis on taking this cargo from Ukraine and depositing it anywhere in Poland and then successively removing it from here. At the same time, while the ore can be stored in the open air because we have the so-called recognised area, where huge amounts of raw material can be stored, it cannot be done with grain because appropriate storage conditions are needed. And this is a big problem because when we fill the Polish silos, there will be a question of what to do with this grain next. It has to go to ports with limited transhipment capacities. Grain terminals in Polish ports were not designed to handle the additional 20 million tonnes. It is, therefore, necessary to create logistics covering not only Poland but also other EU countries.

What is the current situation on the New Silk Road? You have recently completed a large investment at the terminal in Małaszewicze.

Currently, there is good cooperation with Chinese partners. In previous years, we recorded large increases in transhipments to the New Silk Road year by year amounting to 30-40 per cent annually. 2020 was unusual due to the COVID pandemic. This year, transhipments remain at a level similar to the previous one. This is probably for a number of reasons. First of all, the possibility of transport through the territory of Russia and Belarus, the availability of routes and wagons. Some of the flat wagons and routes are probably used for military purposes.

The second question is the issue of transport insurance by Russia and Belarus. At the moment, transport takes place regularly. After a period of uncertainty following the outbreak of the war, the transport returned to normal. At the same time, loads, previously sent via the Kaliningrad region, have been redirected to Terespol. There are no large increases in transhipments but we have not recorded a decrease either. We are now ready to accept more trains.

You will be able to meet representatives of PKP Cargo Terminale during the Intermodal in Poland 2022 conference. The event program, registration of participation and organisational information are available at: https://intermodalinpoland.eu/janow-podlaski-malaszewicze-2022f/

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