Czech trains carry hundreds of Ukrainian refugees, demand exceeds capacity
Over a thousand refugees have already used Czech trains to travel from Ukraine to the Czech Republic and interest in humanitarian trains is growing rapidly.
The demand for Czech trains from the Ukrainian-Polish border grows: a train with six hundred passengers left Chop Wednesday evening. The regular Czech Railways service departs Bohumin every day at 10:30 p.m. for Cerna nad Tisou, Slovakia and the Ukrainian town of Chop (arrival at about 10:30 a.m.) and goes back to Ostrava (departure at 4:00 p.m., arrival at 10:40 p.m.), where a hotspot has been set up to register incoming refugees by the police.
This is a project of Czech Railways and Gepard Express, helping mainly with contacts on the Ukrainian side and with transportation of humanitarian aid from the Czech Republic. “The demand for transport is growing very fast,” says Albert Fikacek of Gepard Express. He claims that about two hundred refugees in Chop were unable to board the train yesterday due to insufficient capacity. Fikacek is also planning to dispatch a freight train with medical supplies from Kosice, Slovakia, to Kiev this week. “Trains will also leave with supplies from the Brno hospital to Mostyska in the Lviv Oblast,” he added.
Czech Railways is allowing hundreds of Ukrainian citizens heading to their home country, e.g. because of general mobilization, to travel free of charge on all trains. Ukrainians only need to show their passports. By the end of February, over 3,500 Ukrainian citizens had taken up on this offer and the number is growing every day.
RegioJet, together with the NGO People in Need, CD Cargo and Rail Cargo Austria, also joined the aid effort and dispatched the first train from Prague to the Polish town of Przemyśl yesterday. It carried both passenger cars and freight cars for transporting pallets of humanitarian aid, as CEETransport wrote earlier.
RegioJet ran into a problem with the company that manages the departure boards; this resulted in the train to Prague not being listed on the departure boards in Przemyśl. This is why the first train will likely not bring as many people to the Czech Republic as the actual demand would be.
The Minister of Transport has set up a coordination group regarding the current capacities and needs for humanitarian aid to Ukraine and its citizens. More information for citizens of Ukraine, as well as for those interested in humanitarian aid, is available on the website Nasiukrajinci.cz.