Can the brand new East-West Gate Intermodal Terminal (EWG) be an alternative solution? While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused supply chain issues for international shipping and the cost of air cargo has soared, rail freight has been able to keep running comparatively trouble free. The bulk of rail shipments from Asia to Europe are spare parts for cars, fashion items, healthcare products and tech. The main European rail freight terminals are in the German cities Duisburg and Hamburg and in the Polish cities like Terespol, Malaszewicze and Slawkow. But there are congestions in these traditional routes and corridors already before 2019. Additional capacity and routes are needed. It’s against this background that in April 2022 the $79 million East-West Gate terminal in Hungary will open near the border with Ukraine.
According to CGTN, Hungary used to be a big player in rail freight before it was hit by a lack of investment. But in 2020, a 10-fold increase on 2019’s number of freight container trains arriving in the country was recorded by Rail Cargo Hungaria. The traffic came through Zahony, the longstanding border point at the Hungary-Ukraine border.
The East-West Gate terminal, 20km from Zahony at Fenyeslitke, hopes to build on that growth and bring more consumer goods into Hungary by rail, before they travel the final section by road. Cargo capacity is measured in TEUs or Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units.
“The terminal will have a significant 1 million TEU … transhipment capacity,” said Dr. Adam Talosi, a board member of East-West Intermodal Logistics. “And it will be a huge warehousing and container storage capacity. It will be easier to reach the consumers, for example, from our terminal directly. But, of course, it is also depending on the public road transportation companies, which are actually transporting the goods directly to the consumers.”
Some customers have a concern for the political situation between Ukraine and Russia. They are afraid that the political issue could be a hurdle for the route through Ukraine and Hungary. Dr. Talosi showed his confidence in this topic. He believed that their partner in Ukraine and Russia will solve all the problems and ensure that the transit traffic is not hindered.
One additional attraction of rail freight to companies is its impact on the environment. A key message from a report by the European Environment Agency earlier this year was that rail and waterborne transport were much more efficient in terms of greenhouse gas emissions than road transport and aviation, both for passengers and freight.