Wojciech Balczun: «UZ» plans to develop freight transport with Europe and East

dsc_0642The possibility of a new container train launching between the Black and the Baltic Seas, the strengthening of freight traffic on the «New Silk Road», the needs of seaports in the railway infrastructure development, and also the ways of the railway monopoly reforming – these and many other things said the head of the Board of PJSC «Ukrainian Railway» (Ukrzaliznytsa, UZ) Wojciech Balczun during his business trip to Odessa region.

«Our main goal is to transform the «Ukrainian Railway» into a modern European company». This was the main message of Wojciech Balczun in the course of the talks with the staff of «Odessa Railroad», the branch of «UZ», during a visit to the sea ports of Odessa region (the largest ports in Ukraine) and the communication with the stevedoring companies’ leaders.

This transformation consists of a number of key points. They are: new management structure implementation, according with modern European holdings; «historic problems» solving on the Ukrainian railways – namely, the fight against corruption; informational support of the company’s production processes; and, of course, investment into rolling stock and infrastructure.


Wojciech Balchun (Poland). Graduated from the Silesian University in Katowice, has a degree in «Social Policy». Got a master’s degree in political science and in business administration from the University of Gdansk.

In 1994-1997 – Director of «Ruch S.A.», distribution issues director of the company «Upper Silesian Press Association». In 1997 was elected as a head of the «Consul Ltd. Board Marketing Office». In 2000-2000 held the position of Marketing Director of the Central Council of the Polish Post. In 2002-2007 – Managing Director of «PKO Bank Polski». From 2008 to 2012 worked as a head of the Board of Joint Stock Company «PKP Cargo». In 2013 – worked in advisory activities «WZB Trade». In 2014 – Advisor to the Board of «Centrala Zaopatrzenia Hutnictwa», in 2015 – Advisor to the Board of the Industrial Development Agency. In June 2016 was appointed for the post of the head of the Board of PJSC «Ukrainian Railway».

Included in the list of top 20 anti-crisis managers of Poland-2012 by «Bloomberg Businessweek Poland».


Speaking of the fight against corruption, the head of the Board of «UZ» stressed the importance of this component: «Today, we are giving the signal of full business transparency to the market and to all of our services. After all, the problem of «Ukrainian Railway» is not that the trains do not go, but the fact that we lose huge sums of money due to corrupt practices».

A significant problem is the huge debt of the company, which today is 50 billion UAH (80% of it – in foreign currencies). «The key to a new life and calm look to the future – debt restructuring. This is one of our priority goals», – said W. Balczun.

However, «UZ» is already thinking about the projects that can generate new cargo flows. This is the launch of container train, which will connect the Black and the Baltic Seas. As the board member Marek Zalesny told, the negotiations with «LHS» company (the operator of broad gauge, which ends in the center of Poland) have begun. «We are talking about three flights a week. In order to run it all, we need a common tariff. During the month, we hope to agree on a tariff. The next step will be a partnership with the Polish national carrier «PKP Cargo» and approval of tariffs to Polish sea ports», – said M.Zalesny.


«Ukrainian Railway» (State Administration of Railway Transport of Ukraine). Provides 82% of freight and almost 50% of passenger transport operations in the country by all modes of transport.

Operating network of railways of Ukraine exceeds 21.6 thousand km, whereof 45  % (almost 9.9 thousand km) are electrified. In terms of freight traffic, «Ukrainian Railway» ranked fourth on the Eurasian continent, losing out only to the railways of China, Russia and India. In Ukraine, there are 1492 operating railway station, 55 locomotive and 48 wagon depots, 110 gauge line sections, 69 alarm connection sections, 44 power supply sections. The width of the gauge line in Ukraine is 1,520 mm.


Stevedores working in the ports of Odessa region asked the management of «Ukrainian Railway» to include the development of railway infrastructure in the direction of the sea ports and railway stations in the ports themselves into their strategic plans. According to business, their capacity is no longer enough – despite the fact that the cargoes coming into these ports are strategically important for Ukraine.

Part of such plans «crack opened» the Head of «Odessa railway» Grigoriy Boyko, telling about the project on the production processes improvement (including information exchange) in order to increase the capacity of the railway infrastructure in Odessa Sea Port. «Once we started with 12 pairs of trains per day, increased it to 16, and at the end of the year we are going to increase it up to 20 pairs, and that is plus 4 million tons of cargo per year. The same thing we intend to do in Chernomorsk (former Illichevsk), in the plans – Izmail sea port», – he said.

Being in Odessa, Wojciech Balczun also announced a development strategy of «Ukrainian Railway» for five years. Work on the document must be completed before the end of the year. It will consider new approaches in all areas of the company – infrastructure development, the management of the rolling stock, freight and passenger transport. It is also about the new HR strategy and the system of employees’ motivation. «This all will allow us to see where we are going, to understand what we want to have in 5-10 years, – and make smart investments», – says the head of the board of «UZ».

paromDuring his visit to the Odessa region Wojciech Balczun visited three major sea ports of Ukraine – Odessa, Yuzhny, Chernomorsk. His impressions after the event he described on his own page on the social network «Facebook».
«Heard and seen require careful reasoning. Once again I established in the opinion that the Odessa region is a strategically important transport hub for the «Ukrainian Railway» and the country as a whole. And the region’s needs today are more than possibilities of «UZ». This should be considered when developing a plan of infrastructure investments», – said W. Balczun on «FB». As for the possibility of further operation of railway sea ferries «Heroes of Shipka» and «Heroes of Plevna» (owned by the State and in the past year handed from the shipping company «Ukrferry» to «Ukrainian Railway»), 3fbthe head of the «UZ» pointed, «contrary to previously provided information, they can be quickly returned to work, and it will generate significant revenue, while now they are putting the lug on companies’ funds for their maintenance». He also told about his meeting with the head of the Odessa region, ex-President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. «We agreed in our views on many issues – reforms in the country and, in particular, in «Ukrainian Railway». Among other things, we discussed the topic of «New Silk Road». And our ferries can be an effective tool in the development of this road», – says Wojciech Balczun.


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