European rail sector continues its efforts to support Ukrainians after almost 12 months of hostilities
As war in Ukraine persists into its second winter, the European rail community continues in its ceaseless efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine.
The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) is working closely with its members to monitor both the provision of this aid, and how transport needs on the ground are diligently being met despite the extreme circumstances. CER members have been bringing humanitarian aid directly to the war affected areas continuously since March 2022. Container trains - loaded with food, drinking water, generators, first aid kits and powerbanks - bring urgently needed goods via Krakow directly to terminals near Kyiv.
Poland remains the busiest crossing point for refugee traffic, with regular train services to Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Zaporozhye and Odessa maintained in cooperation with Ukrainian Railways. The current timetable will be increased with additional connections, if necessary, this spring. A number of trains carry with them provisions and basic necessities, on a daily basis. Within the framework of cooperation between PKP Intercity and the Polish Ministry of Health, PKP Intercity has also prepared a special medical train consisting of 10 cars, some of which have been adapted as sanitary facilities for injured persons (with medical equipment and field beds), others have been stocked with the most necessary products, including dry provisions and blankets for refugees.
Many companies continue to provide free tickets to Ukrainian refugees traveling through their territories and short-term rest zones and reception areas are still available, inside or outside stations, to receive refugees. In a recent poll by CER of its members 85% of respondents confirmed that they are still providing free tickets to refugees fleeing Ukraine. Almost 50% also intend to provide free tickets returning to their country.
Special care is also taken to provide relevant information to refugees in Ukrainian with many railway companies, including German operator Deutsche Bahn, ÖBB, MÁV and PKP Intercity operating dedicated information hotlines. Information is also provided through Ukrainian language webpages, and posters and leaflets available on trains and in stations.
The European rail community remains committed to expressing its solidarity towards Ukraine and its people and will continue to work closely with local, regional, national and EU-level authorities to provide these necessary humanitarian services, which will be adapted or increased, as needed.
The heroic efforts of Ukrainian Railways to ensure the continuation of transport services, providing an essential lifeline to millions of residents and displaced citizens, will also be appropriately recognised at the European Railway Award on 31 January in Brussels, where they will receive the Rail Champion Award 2023.