To most people in the world, Malaszewicze is just a small obscure village in Eastern Poland, with a minuscule population. However, for logistics companies that are working along the New Silk Road, this little village is a gateway that connects the East with the West, as the first entry point for trains arriving from China, Russia and Ukraine to the European Union.
With a population of 4,000 people, it is situated close to the Belarusian border, to the south-west of the Polish town of Terespol. It is quite ironic how this small town has become one of the most critical points for the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, and the supply chain between East and West. Cargo trains from China began arriving in Malaszewicze almost a decade ago, after the construction of the PKP’s first cargo terminal in the town.
With the arrival of the ‘dry’ port in Malaszewicze ten years ago, logistics professionals could transport cars and computers in a matter of two weeks. However, the service was available only once per month. From then to now, the story has evolved, as has the terminal and the town. After the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative, there was a surge in the number of trains arriving from China towards Europe, and most of them crossed Malaszewicze.
Initially, when the surge began, the authorities were unprepared to tackle the mass volume arriving via trains. Another issue was the lack of infrastructure to support such massive traffic. At the same time, the rail network was not entirely profitable and depended mainly on subsidies. This congestion and lack of revenue frustrated many logistics companies, which then entailed in looking for newer routes to unburden Malaszewicze.
Over the years, the terminal developed and could more or less cope with the traffic moving along this route. However, when the coronavirus pandemic began, there were congestions at all terminals and ports that are central to the New Silk Road, including Malaszewicze. When borders began to open and business started to recover, the congestion reduced, but the impact was acknowledged by one and all. In June 2020, it was announced that numerous contracts were awarded for the expansion and modernization of the terminal in Malaszewicze. The storage yard, transshipment track, drainage systems will undergo modernization and reconstruction. Along with this, a track extension will also take place. The European Union and the Polish government are funding these projects, which will be completed by the beginning of 2022.
These new developments are a cause of excitement, not just for the terminal but also for the town of Malaszewicze, as it will bring in more revenue to the area. As the New Silk Road expands, it is essential to note that it is not just the supply chain that benefits but also the geographical location in itself. Acknowledging this historic opportunity is necessary for policymakers, industry people and the locals to join hands and develop Malaszewicze as one of the most significant ‘dry’ ports.