EUROPEAN operators are continuing to introduce measures designed to simplify rail travel for refugees fleeing Ukraine following the Russian invasion.
Ukrainian Railways (UZ) said on March 2 that more than 900,000 people had left Ukraine, including 58,000 foreigners. UZ continues to operate evacuation trains. Direct trains are operating to Romania, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. A transport hub has been created at Chop station from where nine pairs of trains per day operate to Záhony in Hungary.
Depending on the flow of passengers, additional evacuation routes could be introduced from Kyiv to western regions of Ukraine.
RegioJet is partnering with UZ, Člověk v tísni, ČD Cargo and Rail Cargo Group to provide a free daily night train between Ukraine and Prague to support the evacuation of refugees following the Russian invasion. The 20-coach train has capacity for 400 passengers and is also transporting humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The train operates from Kiev to Lviv and then as an overnight service departing from Przemysl at 21.30 to Prague with stops in Ostrava, Olomouc and Pardubice. RegioJet will provide free food and drink to passengers onboard the service.
German Rail (DB) has commenced operating a shuttle service between the Frankfurt/Oder border station and Berlin. Six trains per day are operating and the increase in capacity is designed to accommodate increased passenger numbers including refugees fleeing from Ukraine. DB continues to work closely with the Federal Government, BMDV, the federal and state authorities and partner railway companies in neighbouring companies to enable the refugees to be able to travel freely across Europe.
Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) has confirmed that until further notice, refugees from Ukraine are able to travel for free throughout Austria, and will be issued special tickets. On the first of the policy, 200 such tickets were issued. ÖBB is also providing emergency shelter at Vienna Main Station. Many refugees arriving in Vienna continue their journey to Switzerland or Germany, and most trains carrying refugees are arriving from Poland or Hungary.
Belgian National Railways (SNCB) confirmed that refugees fleeing Ukraine can use domestic services, and cross-border trains to/from Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and France, free of charge from March 1 upon presentation of the Helpukraine ticket introduced by DB as well as their passport or identity card. Thalys also offered free travel for Ukrainian refugees from February 28.
Netherlands Railways (NS) has confirmed that refugees fleeing from Ukraine can travel for free in its services to the Netherlands. NS says that the refugee’s passport or identity card is their train ticket. This is also available for Ukrainian refugees who want to travel within the Netherlands.
Eurostar announced on March 2 that Ukrainian national with a valid visa could travel to London for free from any station it serves.