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Chernomorsk (Ilyichevsk) – Poti/Batumi ferry service expects further traffic rise in 2017.

The meeting of the Board of the Directors of joint operation of ferry service Ilyichevsk-Varna and Varna-Poti/Batumi-Ilyichevsk has been held in Odessa.

Never before in the decades of operation did the Board of Directors meet with so much attention towards its activities. This is explained by the situation Ukraine has been dragged into following the aggressive actions of Russian President Putin’s decree of July 3 prohibiting the transit passage of Ukrainian cargoes through Russia headed to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan as well as the activization of international projects aiming to develop shipping between China and Europe (New Silk Road) with the application of International TransCaucasus Transport route coming through Black Sea and Caspian Sea.

It’s noteworthy that this meeting of the Board of Directors of Ferry services has been timed to coincide with the International Conference “Integrated Transport Corridors Europe-Asia” which has seen representatives from transport authorities as well as international Carriers coming from nearly all of the States participating in the New Silk Road.

It is therefore only logical that Mr. Merkulov Yuriy, the acting Director in cargo shipping and logistics of PJC “UKRZALIZNITZA” called upon to “find the optimal solution in raising the efficiency of the transport complex to secure welfare of our peoples and to strengthen the position of our countries in the general European transport system”.

First of all, the analysis of rail-ferry service traffic through Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria over the past 3 years, the 7 months of the current year and prospects for 2017 has been made. It was noted that the freight turnover between the ports of Ilyichevsk, Varna, Batumi has amounted to 142,2 thousand tons this year, a 12,51% year-on-year rise. Shipping volume from the port of Ilyichevsk has increased by 28,9 thousand tons, a rise of 30,5% year-on-year.

This uptick is largely due to Russian sanctions which came in force this July and caused a harp increase in ferry railwagons and trucks turnover. This de-facto force-major occurrence has caused the average waiting time for a railwagon to be rolled on board to take up to 8 days throughout July and August. It must be stressed that by the time the Board of Directors had their meeting the cargo congestion has been dealt with successfully due to Ukrferry ramping up the number of voyages, the number of railwagons waiting to be loaded being put down to an ordinary level. All of this, while the reserves of spare ferry capacity have not been used up in full and there still is a way to further speed up ferry operation in the ports and raise the number of voyages performed.

All of this makes it possible to assume the 2017 rail-ferry turnover will beat that of the ongoing year for Ukraine –Georgia route and the ferry complex will be ready to create additional opportunities for raising its efficiency and competitiveness.

On the other hand, a further drop in freight traffic was noted at Ilyichevsk-Varna route. There is almost no ferry traffic between Bulgaria and Ukraine. 10 voyages that called Ilyichevsk over the span of 7 months carried just 27 empty railwagons overall.

Much attention at the meeting of the Board of Director was devoted to arranging shipping container trains by ferries in the Europe –China direction. It was noted that with Ukrferry and Ukrzalizniza becoming full-fledged partners of International TransCaspian route, Ukraine has become a reliable link in arranging intermodal transport logistics routes between China and Europe and backwards. Technical and technological conditions for setting up a container train service with the application of rail-ferry service are being considered with negotiations with strategic European partners on utilizing the capacity of the transport itinerary via the Black Sea and Caspian Sea being under way.

To allow for freight rate reduction and in order to attract new ferry cargoflows the meeting of the Board of Directors considered a proposition to renew preferential terms for partial exempting ferries from port charges in the ports of Ilyichevsk, Poti and Batumi as well as excluding pilot and tug service charges, if not ordered by Captains. Nevertheless, the proposition was not supported by the Georgian ports.

Other technical issued have been discussed at the meeting, such as providing top priority for rolling railwagons on board, ferry schedule planning, freight shipping planning, the supply of railwagons by Ukrzalizniza to Central Asia countries for back-haul shipments, actualization of normative acts of international rail-ferry service, the implementation of electronic documentation, the outlooks for utilization of “Geroi Shipki” and “Geroi Plevny” ferry vessels.

The Board of Directors has seen some amendments as well. The Chairman of the Board of Directors on joint operation of ferry services Varna-Poti/Batumi-Ilyichevsk and Ilyichevsk –Varna has been elected Mr. Alexander Kurlyand, the President of Shipping Company “Ukrferry”.

The next meeting of the Board of Directors has been scheduled to take place in the first half of 2017 in Georgia.

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