2018 was a bumper crop year for Ukraine. According to the Final Report from the State Statistics Service, a record 70.057 million tons of refined grain was produced. 2019 promises to be no less fertile.
A significant amount of Ukrainian grain and pulses is exported. In the first half of 2019, grain was Ukraine’s largest sea export. According to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy, Ukraine exported 6.98 million tons up to August of this year.
Aleksej Sorokin, Head of the Railcar Fleet Operating Division at AsstrA, shares his impressions:
“For the second year in a row, Ukrainian farmers have had a record harvest. Due to the large volumes of harvested cereals, oilseeds, and pulses, there are long queues for the transportation of bulk cargoes. Although Ukrzaliznytsia a.k.a. Ukrainian Railways remains the key owner of hopper railcars, the number of private owners is growing. This year, the total number of privately owned grain carriers exceeded the amount held by Ukrzaliznytsia for the first time.
“Hopper-type grain carriers are closed railcars. This class of self-loading bunker car is used for the transportation of bulk cargo. Railway grain carriers protect grain from atmospheric precipitation and adverse environmental conditions.”
AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG group clients receive a full range of railway transportation services involving hopper-type grain wagons in Ukraine and elsewhere.
“AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG has signed long-term railway grain carrier lease agreements with private owners of rolling stock. Thanks to these agreements, our clients have punctual access to wagons even in periods of high demand. Just-in-time loading guarantees the preservation of grain quality and that products are exported in the proper state,” adds Aleksej Sorokin.
Railways connect Ukraine to the CIS, so delivering large volumes of goods is affordable via this mode of transport.
“Transportation of bulk cargo by rail is favorable over medium distances. For short distances, road transport is better in terms of price / time. For long distances sea is best. The top destinations for AsstrA’s grain carriers are the ports of Odessa, Mykolaiv, Chernomorsk, and sometimes Kherson.”
Most AsstrA clients choose to ship grain by rail within Ukraine and to Belarus. But there are exceptions.
“AsstrA experts organized the transportation of soybeans to Turkmenistan, bypassing the territory of Russia due to the sanctions. 14 wagons with cargo weighing slightly less than 1,000 tons were transported from the Ukrainian province of Sumy to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The transportation took almost a full month. AsstrA specialists organized the transportation of railway grain carriers with two ferry services from Chornomorsk, Ukraine - Poti, Georgia and Alat, Azerbaijan - Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan. AsstrA is one of the few companies in Ukraine that has organized transportation with railway grain carriers over such a long distance,” comments Aleksej Sorokin.