Lithuania and Ukraine seek full European integration together
Ukrainian Railways has agreed to cooperate with Lithuanian Railways (LTG) to join the Free Rail programme initiated by LTG. This Free Rail program should help to further integrate to the European railways, ranging from technical compatibility, legal issues to IT solutions.
The two parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Munich on 9 May – Europe Day. Egidijus Lazauskas, the CEO of LTG also invited other countries in the Baltic region to join this initiative.
According to Viacheslav Yeromin, a member of the Management Board of Ukrainian Railways who signed the Memorandum, the creation of a new operating model aligned with the broad gauge railways will contribute to strengthening Ukraine’s business ties with Europe.
“The creation of a unified model for the region’s railways opens up new opportunities both for strengthening the region’s security and for developing rail business links with European countries. By harmonising the technical standards of the different railway companies, we will be able to improve cross-border mobility, creating more favourable conditions for economic cooperation between Ukraine and European markets”, said Yeromin.
Free Rail programme
The programme called ‘Free Rail’, is designed for the period until 2030 and aims to strengthen business ties among the Baltic countries and Ukraine. This rail programme focuses on countries that use the broad gauge (1,520 mm) and aims to create better integration within the overall European rail network in standard gauge (1,435 mm).
In the Memorandum, LTG and Ukrainian Railways have agreed to work together to ensure that the new railway operating model is compatible between the broad gauge countries, to encourage the broad gauge countries to join the FREE Rail initiative, and to seek support for the initiative in the European Union Institutions and in the European organisations that represent the railway industry. It has not been made known if other states have joined the programme.
According to head of LTG Lazauskas, the diversification of activities and development of services targeting different markets has been a strategic goal of LTG Group companies since 2017. Since then, and especially in the last few years, significant progress has been made, with the establishment of LTG Cargo subsidiary LTG Cargo Polska in 2020 and LTG Cargo Ukraine in 2021. New freight routes have been launched, intermodal services with Western Europe are being developed, and a new passenger route Vilnius–Warsaw–Krakow has been launched.