Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rail Freight Trucks Banned From Russian Rail Tracks

Ukraine Impose Restrictions Due to Imbalance of Trade
Shipping News Feature

UKRAINE - A reported shortage of rail freight trucks in the country is causing a diplomatic hitch after the state rail authority, Ukrzaliznytsia, suspended permission for the nation’s freight cars from travelling into Russia. The problem is blamed by the Ukrainians on an increase in cargo levels and the reluctance of their neighbours to return equipment punctually.

The ban does not extend to the Baltic States, Moldova, Belarus, and Georgia because, according to Ukrzaliznytsia official Vasyl Naumenko :

“If our railcars enter Russia, that is it, expect them back only when they need to be repaired. 2,645 railcars go out of Ukraine everyday, load up, including 1,100 gondola cars. There is no fleet of general-purpose gondola cars in Russia, Belarus do not have them and the Baltic States do not have them." Gondola’s are the low profile, open top rolling stock which ferry bulk goods and are preferred for many heavy industry items.

Some shipping companies and suppliers have complained that the ban will result in less choice as to the rail haulier used for inter state transport with Russian group the First Cargo Company OJSC (FCC) taking the bulk of orders. FCC, principal stockholders Russian Railways, has access to its own vast fleet of rail cars and more on order from Uralvagonzavod, makers of rail trucks (and incidentally the biggest builder of main battle tanks in the world).

Two years ago FCC banned the carriage of goods into Ukraine using their gondola cars after they repeatedly complained that their equipment was being retained by their neighbours and claimed compensation for their losses. Observers feel this latest move is a reciprocal slap on the wrist for Russian freight interests and that the ban could be lifted within the next three months.

Photo: A typical gondola freight car.