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HHLA establishes intermodal company in Ukraine

HHLA establishes intermodal company in Ukraine
The first UIC container block train

Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) has established its own intermodal company in Ukraine, offering container transport by rail between the Port of Odessa and economic centres in the country.

The new Ukrainian Intermodal Company (UIC) represents an effort by the terminal operator towards a stronger modal shift from road to rail.

Last year, the throughput volume at the Black Sea port of Odessa increased by 8.5% to almost 650,000 teu. However, at 22%, rail only accounts for a small share of the container traffic between the port and the Ukrainian hinterland.

By comparison, over 46% of sea containers in Hamburg reach or leave the port in the environmentally friendly manner by rail.

The existing broad-gauge network connects the largest inland economic centres with the Ukrainian coast, noted HHLA, while large parts of the road network are in need of modernisation.

Furthermore, due to the large distances in Ukraine – the Eastern European country is almost twice the size of Germany – rail transport is a sustainable way to transport goods.

Philip Sweens, managing director of HHLA International, said: “HHLA possesses extensive expertise in the intermodal business. With an efficient train system based on customer-friendly services, transparent prices, simple booking processes and reliable timetables, we want to tap the considerable potential of the Ukrainian intermodal market.”

Together with local partners, the German company intends to remove obstacles to rail transport in Ukraine, and to establish and market a reliable range of services.

Until now, container transport by rail in Ukraine was almost exclusively carried out using individual cars or groups of wagons.

The newly established UIC bundles the individual loading to container block trains, thereby increasing the efficiency and reliability of transport.

Since early October 2020, UIC has offered weekly block train connections between Odessa and Ternopil in the Lviv economic region in Western Ukraine.

In November, a weekly service to the industrial centre of Kharkiv, the second largest city in the Ukraine, will start operations. There are also plans to establish a weekly container train connection between Odessa and Zaporizhia in the east of the Ukraine.

In the Port of Odessa, HHLA operates the largest container handling facility in Ukraine: the Container Terminal Odessa (CTO), which has its own rail terminal that is currently being expanded and where the container block trains are formed.

All inland activities are carried out in cooperation with private rail terminals. Additional services such as stuffing and stripping of containers, hub-to-door delivery to the final destination by truck or customs clearance are also available.

The future plan is to expand the offer of regular rail connections to other Ukrainian production and consumer centres and increase the frequency of services.