The three-party founders plan to extend the project by connecting it to Romania and Bulgaria and making Turkey a destination country.
By Paul Ciocoiu for Southeast European Times in Bucharest -- 21/08/13
Romania and Bulgaria will join the Viking Train project, which connects the network of containers' transportation lines of the Baltic region and the Black, Mediterranean and Caspian seas. [Gabriel Petrescu/SETimes]
Moldova’s decision to join the Viking Train regional container transport project, which connects the network of containers' transportation lines of the Baltic region and the Black, Mediterranean and Caspian seas, will drop transport costs and boost the country's economy, Moldova's transport ministry said.
Starting July 23rd, Moldova opened an inter-modal transport corridor for cargo transportation by sea and by rail, which will include the cities of Ocnita, Balti and Ungheni in the north of the country and the port of Giurgiulesti, Moldova’s only exit to Danube, in the southeast of the country.
"Our country’s participation in such projects … can contribute to the reduction of transport fares and attraction of external cargo traffic," Vasile Botnari, Moldova minister of transport, said in a statement to SETimes. "At the same time, by joining this project we fully exploit our investments in the port infrastructure around Giurgiulesti, but also in the rail infrastructure, thus generating surplus value to the whole southern region of the Republic of Moldova."
Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine began co-operation over the Viking Train project in 2003 to serve the rapid growth of international trade. About 59,000 containers were transported last year on the 1,753 km routes from the Lithuanian port of Klapeida to the Ukrainian Black Sea ports of Odessa and Ilyichevsk. The latter is also a connection point for other routes of transport going to the Caucasus and Turkey.
In 2009, the European Intermodal Association named the decade-long project as the most successful intermodal project.
The three-party founders now plan to extend the project by connecting it to Romania and Bulgaria and making Turkey a destination country. Romania's freight operator CFR Marfa has already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Lithuanian railway company to co-operate within the Viking Train project.
"We assess the first transport of containers that will transit Romania within the Viking Train project will start in September-October," Romania's transport ministry said in a statement to SETimes.
Romania will ensure the cargo transit on one of the three rail routes: Vadu-Siret on the border with Ukraine, to Giurgiu/Ruse on the Bulgarian border, Ungheni on the border with Moldova, to Giurgiu/Ruse and Giurgiulesti/Galati on Danube to Giurgiu/Ruse.
"A full cargo train (30 wagons each carrying two 6-metre-long containers) is expected to cross Romania per week as of next year," the ministry said.
According to the ministry, the transport services provided by the Viking Train project will bring to Romania competitive prices and special tariffs for the whole rail route. The country will also benefit from simplified customs procedures, improved conditions for merchandise preservation during the transport, enhanced speed and an ecological means of transport.
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