Europe's largest land-based container terminal started operating near Hungary's border with Ukraine on Tuesday, aiming to increase shipments of Ukrainian grains via Hungary to Adriatic ports.
The East-West Gate terminal, built at a cost of about 40 billion forints ($95.65 million), allows containers to be transferred between wide and standard gauge rail tracks as well as between trains and trucks.
It "will have a huge role in shipping Ukrainian grains," Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto told a news conference in Fenyeslitke in eastern Hungary.
"The machinery used here is capable of handling 800 tonnes of grain and 450 cubic metres of sunflower oil per hour," Szijjarto said, adding the terminal would make shipping of Ukrainian agricultural goods more efficient.
The terminal is eventually expected to handle 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes of grains per month.
Ukraine is one of the world's biggest grain exporters, mainly by sea. Its exports were largely halted early in the conflict by a Russian de facto blockade, but have resumed under a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey.
Exports in the first 17 days of this month reached 2.12 million tonnes, or just 2.4% lower than the same period last year, according to Ukrainian agriculture ministry data. However, Moscow has complained about the implementation of the grains deal and threatened to block its renewal next month.
($1 = 418.2000 forints)
(Reuters - Reporting by Krisztina Fenyo and Krisztina Than)