HAMBURG, July 21 (Reuters) – German national railways Deutsche Bahn (DB) plans to start freight train services to carry Ukrainian grain exports to German ports for loading on ships, DB said.
Grains will be brought by rail to German ports including Rostock, Hamburg and Brake, DB said.
Details of capacity were not given but several trains a week are planned, largely picking up Ukrainian grain in Romania.
The DB has been running trains from Germany loaded with aid cargoes for Ukraine and it is planned that freight trains will load grain on their return journeys.
Ukrainian agricultural exports were about 2.5 million tonnes in June against up to 6 million tonnes of grain per month before Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24. Moscow calls its action a “special military operation”.
U.N agencies have warned that lack of Ukrainian grain, which typically goes to the Middle East and Africa, is threatening starvation and mass migration on an “unprecedented scale”.
Much of Ukraine’s current grain exports are moved by truck and river ships to neighbouring countries including Romania and Poland for loading on ocean ships but the different gauge of Ukrainian railway tracks means most EU trains cannot be used inside Ukraine.
Ukraine urgently needs to export grain as its harvest starts this summer with farmers facing a lack of storage capacity, with hopes talks about establishing a safe ocean shipping corridor in the Black Sea for Ukrainian exports could continue this week.
(Reporting by Michael Hogan; editing by Jason Neely)