Lithuanian grain producers planning to export about 4 million tons of grain this year say that the process of grain haulage to the Klaipeda port should go smoothly, however, competition for the freight should be more fierce, informs LETA/BNS.

The state-run Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai (Lithuanian Railways, LG), which didn’t always meet the demands of grain producers in the past, maintain they are this year ready to deliver the whole amount to the port in time. Furthermore, the railway company offered a more attractive price for the services and expects to boost the volume of carried cargo.

“To date, we have enough locomotives and train cars to meet the increased demand. We are also readying for the approaching harvesting season, we are talking to the association (Lithuanian Association of Grain Processors) about the challenges that emerged in earlier years and are working to handle the challenges,” Egidijus Lazauskas, director of the state railway company’s Freight Transportation Directorate, told BNS.

In his words, Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai currently has about 1,100 train cars intended for carrying grain, in addition to 200-300 train cars Belarus has pledged to lend. The company also has about 160 locomotives, which should be enough.

The Lithuanian Association of Grain Processors says that about 4 million tons of grains should be exported from Lithuania this year, with the amount unchanged from last year. In 2016, about half of the volume was carried by rail and the rest by trucks. According to the forecasts, the share of grain delivered by rail should increase in 2017.

“The railway company has secured 1,234 train cars for us – everything they have available. We have already booked about half of them but contracts are yet to be concluded. We always need about 1,500 train cars. After the change in the leadership (of Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai), we get more attention. We expect to get the train cars,” Dalia Rusciauskiene, director of the association, told BNS.

Siaures Vilkas, one of the country’s largest grain trade and logistics groups, says it does not fear competition with Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai.

 “We expect to carry bigger amounts of grain, as weather conditions last year were rather unfavorable (…). We can compete with Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai, as we are also looking at cutting haulage costs. We do not fear Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai too much, as railways and vehicle transport is not sufficient in the high season,” Arminas Kaikaris, transport director at Siaures Vilkas, told BNS.

Lithuanian grain is traditionally exported to Iran, countries in North Africa and Western Europe.