Authors: Viktor Zagreba, Armin Wagner
Contributors: Demyan Danylyuk, Marta Pastukh, Nadiya Oleshchuk, Nataliia Mospan, Valerii Mospan
This article presents initial observations and thoughts on the necessary restoration of Ukraine's transport system as well as the prospect of re-orientation.
The war against Ukraine is showing its ugliest face. Endless suffering, dead, injured; dreams and hopes destroyed. In addition to irreparable human losses, the economic and infrastructural devastation of this war in the heart of Europe is already enormous.
Numerous important infrastructure facilities in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Vinnytsia, Dnipro, Chernihiv, Lviv, Sumy regions, and elsewhere have been destroyed or damaged along with the world’s largest aircraft, the famous AN225. Since the beginning of the war, at least 411 educational institutions, 36 health care facilities, 1,600 residential buildings, 26 factories/warehouses, 15 airports, 7 thermal / hydropower stations, etc. have been damaged, destroyed, or seized in Ukraine.
In addition, more than 15,000 km of roads, 5,000 km of railways, at least 350 bridges and bridge crossings, etc. were destroyed/decommissioned. According to estimates, the losses caused by the war already amount to more than 100 billion USD; half of the country’s economy is at a standstill. At the beginning of March 2022, the direct losses of Ukraine's transport infrastructure equal over $40 billion . According to the announced data, the following were damaged, destroyed or captured:
As a result of the lack of life safety conditions in the active war zones, the loss of housing and income, many Ukrainian people were forced to leave their homes. Early estimates by the UNDP indicate that nearly 30 percent of the Ukrainian population are likely to require humanitarian assistance. In its current scale and direction, 18 million people are projected to become affected and more than 7 million people internally displaced . The important task for the municipalities of non-embattled cities currently is to aid, shelter, and host the population displaced from active war zones. The governments of non-embattled cities are located in the central and western part of Ukraine and they are under considerable stress just to maintain basic services to large numbers of refugees/IDPs, including ensuring appropriate transport services for the population and providing well-targeted logistic services. For this reason, the entire country’s transport system must work efficiently in these challenging for Ukraine times and plan the way for the immediate infrastructural restoration.
As an important branch of the national economy, the transport sector will be highly affected by the country’s changes caused by war. It is unclear how the military situation, the political process, and the countermeasures around the world will play out – in either the shorter or longer term. However, it is already certain that a consequence of the war’s impact on the transport system will affect many in Europe and beyond. Among the most visible regional and global transport sector’s challenges affecting Ukraine but also other countries could be highlighted the following:
Ukraine's importance for international food supplies is coming into focus; trade flows will shift significantly. Ukrainian Railways (UZ) reports, for example, that, “Almost 95% of agricultural products were exported through the sea commercial ports of Ukraine. Currently, only two of Ukraine’s ports – Izmail and Reni – are able to reload cargo for export, though only in small quantities. In February 2022, 2.9 million tons of grain were loaded, which is 37.4% more than in February 2021. For 11 days in March 2022, 100.2 thousand tons of grain were loaded, which is 87% less than in the same period last year.” (https://www.uz.gov.ua/press_center/up_to_date_topic/578790/).
The situation of Ukrainian ports as of 21 March is as following: the ports of Mariupol, Berdyansk, Skadovsk, Kherson are temporarily not working - the entry / exit of ships is temporarily impossible; ports of Mykolaev, Olbia, Pivdenny, Odesa, Chernomorsk - partially carry out the processing of the fleet available at the berths and shipment by rail and road. Entry/exit of vessels is temporarily impossible. (В МИУ рассказали о ситуации в морской отрасли в условиях войны — Центр транспортных стратегий (cfts.org.ua))
The list of mentioned-above findings is initial, and it is already obvious that further factfinding and forecasts as likely to be added next months when the world will have the full picture of the impacts of war on supply chains logistics, and the public transport sector. But some potential approaches to the stabilization and re-setting of the Ukrainian transport system are already visible.
In the short term, it is necessary to strengthen the handling capacities of the Ukrainian railways as well as the border points and the corresponding road capacities. The UZ has calculated the capacity of freight wagon traffic via different border points (https://www.uz.gov.ua/press_center/up_to_date_topic/page-9/578203/); here, different transport scenarios depending on factors such as agricultural development should be kept in mind and traffic flows should be monitored.
It has become clear that over the long term, the Ukrainian transport system needs to be significantly adjusted.
In peacetime, almost all exports and imports of Ukraine were focused on seaports. The war has shown that such a strategy is unreliable. The war will end, but risks from the neighborhood’s aggression could remain. Therefore, Ukraine needs to build infrastructure for the development of exports and imports across the borders of Western Europe. This requires improving the infrastructural preconditions, including the rerouting of central railway connections, the improvement of road connections, an increase in the efficiency of border crossing points as well as the promotion of modern logistics solutions. UZ has already initiated this process and invites investors to set up logistics facilities in Lviv and Transcarpathia regions (Source: https://www.uz.gov.ua/press_center/up_to_date_topic/578954/). An important building block here can be the re-construction / re-gauging from broad gauge to Euro tracks (1435 mm) to central locations in Ukraine in order to facilitate logistics and to reduce costs. The country should re-conceptualize the logistics for all regions by clustering the territory and developing the network of logistic hubs ensuring the satisfying the delivery needs of population and enterprises. This will guarantee the reliability of the freight transport system of Ukraine.
Moreover, Ukraine should start fully using the potential of inland waterway transport. About 4 000 km of inland waterways pass through Ukraine (Dnipro, Danube, and Southern Bug), which can potentially transport freights. The length of waterways used by shipping has almost halved since 1990, from 4 000 km to 1 900 km. Work on deepening the bottom of most rivers has not been carried out for more than twenty years. Thus, over the last years, inland waterway transport accounts for less than 1% of all traffic. Compared to European countries, these are critically small volumes. The development of inland waterway transport could become a viable alternative for road and rail transportation in the future.
Furthermore, considerable interruptions and disruptions of the energy supply are to be expected both in terms of electricity and liquid fuels. On the energy side, it is therefore necessary to further reduce dependence on imported fuels. Renewable energy is the ultimate form of energy independence since no sovereign state owns the sun. Moreover, as innovation drives down the cost of technology to convert solar and wind power to electricity, renewable energy will become less and less expensive. In addition, battery technology, essential due to the intermittent nature of solar and wind power is also improving. Thus, the restoration of the Ukrainian transport system should follow the strategy of maximization of renewables usage in freight and passenger transportation.
Following the global principles of sustainable transport system development, enough attention on the stage of the transport system restoration should be paid to the further expansion of public transport, better conditions for walking and cycling and a renewal of the vehicle fleet towards energy-efficient electric vehicles using renewable energies. This is, of course, a medium and long-term perspective; the focus now is on conservation and immediate reconstruction.
Wartime conditions significantly affect the planning, management, and providing transport services for the population and enterprises on the local level. This is clearly evident in the cities of Ukraine.
The transport infrastructure of embattled Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Mariupol, Okhtyrka, Gostomel, Irpen, Bucha, and other cities, was considerably destroyed. A lot of vehicles were set on fire in the fighting. Destruction of roads, tracks, transformer substations, transport facilities, etc. is already clearly visible. An example is the destruction of Kharkiv's tram depot after the Russian attacks: https://t.co/jBsOa1i7hN. The exact extent of the damage is hardly foreseeable.
At a first glance it seems like the cities of the central and western Ukrainian cities are more fortuned because they are away from active war zones. But in fact, the urban life of these regions was also changed significantly.
But even non-embattled cities in Western and Central Ukraine are facing major challenges due to a significant influx of internally displaced persons (combined with rising expenses), dwindling revenues due to reduced economic activities, a dwindling supply of spare parts, need for industrial re-orientation, business instability, and so on. A brief outlook of the main changes of urban life together with the transport concerns at Kyiv, Kropyvnytskyi, Lviv, Poltava, Rivne, Ternopil, Vinnytsia and Zhytomyr in wartime conditions are provided below:
To be observed: Cancelation of tender procedures as in Ivano-Frankivsk: https://cfts.org.ua/news/2022/03/24/ivano_frankovsk_priostanovil_tender_na_zakupku_trolleybusov_s_avtonomnym_khodom_na_36_mln_evro_69689
At the local level, in the short term, it will be necessary in non-embattled cities to strengthen reception capacities for refugees and to strengthen basic provisions in the area of municipal services. This will also help to better manage refugee flows and accommodate them closer to home. At the same time, Ukrainian cities have also invested in significantly improving municipal services as part of the decentralisation of administrative services, and these achievements must not be risked. In the non-embattled cities, the following needs can be identified:
Transport system is vital to ensuring country connectivity and functioning of economic activities in wartime and peacetime conditions. To support the Ukrainian authorities in sustaining and rehabilitating the transport system at all governmental levels a comprehensive Action Plan can be developed. This plan should consist of the main measures and timeframes for transport system re-setting. With a short-, medium- and long-term view, an action plan for local, regional and national level could look like this:
Medium-term: Winter Package 2022/23
Medium-term: Technical assistance for reconstruction planning
Immediate action is required to address the above-mentioned challenges, to support Ukraine and to materialize the European orientation of Ukraine (association agreement). Without support for the transport sector, Ukraine will face severe trade challenges, urban service delivery challenges and remain reliant on foreign fossil fuel imports. International partners can support a sustainable modernisation process of the transport sector through immediate and concrete actions in the field of transport – both the urban dimension, regional connectivity and international trade corridors.
Supporting Mobility in Lviv, Ukraine
In 2021 Lviv, Ukraine was selected as ITDP’s Sustainable Transport Award Honorable Mention. Today the city seeks for international assistance to keep the transportation and mobility systems operating. Resources that are needed are:
Please contact Maksym Terletsky on behalf of the City Institute directly to support the City’s humanitarian needs (phone number:+380678906153, email firstname.lastname@example.org).