BERLIN, GERMANY — The German government is working to build a “grain bridge” to move agriculture products out of Ukraine and bring machinery in by railways, according to Handelsblatt, a German media outlet.
Michael Theurer, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport, confirmed to the media outlet that talks were being held with the Ukrainian railways and other European railways, such as the neighboring railways in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania. There is talk that a total of up to 20,000 trains could be run, Handelsblatt reported.
"As a rail transport officer, I am committed to ensuring that 20 million tonnes of grain can be shipped in order to avert a global hunger catastrophe," Teurer said.
Using rail is more expensive than shipping by sea, but port access has been limited or non-existent since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Railway subsidiary DB Cargo in particular will play a central role in the planned grain bridge. It has shown in the past few weeks that the rail route to Ukraine is largely intact, the media outlet reported. The company collects donations for the people of Ukraine by truck, packs them in containers and then takes them to Ukraine by freight train, it said.
DB Cargo has a train network that connects important ports, for example on the Adriatic or on the North Sea coast. Grain could be transshipped and transported by ship to the regions that need it most.
According to the Ukrainian Agriculture Ministry, the war in Ukraine has already affected about 25% of global grain trade and led to rising world prices.