The German government, in cooperation with the largest rail freight operator in Europe, DB Cargo, which is a division of the German railway concern Deutsche Bahn, intends to draw up a plan for the creation of a so-called grain bridge. to ensure the uninterrupted supply of grain from Ukraine to third countries. according to the German newspaper Handelsblatt.
According to her, a Deutsche Bahn spokesperson confirmed to the publication that “there are already plans in this regard”. “As a railway employee, I am obliged to ensure the delivery of 20 million tonnes of grain to prevent a food catastrophe in the world,” Michael Theurer, Secretary of State of the German Federal Ministry of Transport, told Handelsblatt. He also mentioned that negotiations are currently underway with representatives of Ukrainian railways and other European railway operators, including those in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania. “At the moment, we are studying how to effectively bring this grain bridge to life,” he said.
Allocation of funds
At the same time, Teurer said there were about 20,000 trains carrying grain from Ukraine to other countries. Operations can be funded from the federal budget. Issues of competitive neutrality are also important. At this moment, the German Cabinet is ready to provide 430 million euros. The final decision on the distribution of funds is expected to be taken by the authorities on Wednesday. In addition, the European Commission and the UN are participating in the negotiations on the implementation of the “grain bridge” plan.
The so-called grain bridge, according to Handelsblatt, includes two aspects. On the one hand, disrupted supply chains need to be created and protected. Ukraine mainly exports grain by sea. Because shipping around the world is facing difficulties due to sanctions imposed on Russia amid events in Ukraine, as well as current restrictions on the coronavirus epidemic in China, transportation must be done by rail.
At the same time, it is necessary to send agricultural machinery to Kyiv, from spare parts to new tractors, combines and other equipment.
The DB Cargo railway subsidiary will play a central role in the construction of the Grain Bridge for several reasons. In recent weeks, the state-owned company has shown that the railway route to Ukraine is largely intact. In early March, the company launched the so-called railway bridge for the delivery of humanitarian aid. DB Cargo also offers a rail network connecting important ports such as those on the Adriatic coast or the North Sea coast. There, the grain could be reloaded and shipped to the regions that needed it most, primarily to countries such as Ethiopia, Lebanon, or Indonesia.
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