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Ukrzaliznytsya says freight transport 12% up under new CEO

"Preliminary figures for January show 25.9 per cent growth."

The chief financial officer at the Ukrainian state-owned railway company Ukrzaliznytsya, Andriy Ryazantsev, has said that rail freight transport demonstrated a 12-per-cent growth under the company's new CEO Wojciech Balczun. Ryazantsev was speaking at a roundtable in Gorshenin Institute in response to Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan's criticism of Balczun.

According to Ukrzaliznytsya's reports, that Ukrainian railways transported over 181m tonnes of cargo, which is a 12-per-cent increase over the first half of the year. They serviced a total of 222.5m passengers, which marks a 2.8-per-cent increase over the same period.

"Preliminary figures for January 2017 show that cargo transit grew by 25.9 per cent, while passenger transport went 2 per cent up over the same month last year," the Ukrzaliznytsya CFO said.

Ryazantsev also recalled that, for the first time in years, Ukrzaliznytsya posted a net profit of over 300m hryvnyas, a considerable improvement over 2015 when it reported the losses of 683m hryvnyas, and 1.2bn hryvnyas in losses in 2014.

Omelyan responded by saying that the figures posted by Ukrzaliznytsya in 2016 were solely thanks to an increase in tariffs.

In mid-January, Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan in an angered exchange said he had voted against appointing Wojciech Balczun as Ukrzaliznytsya chief. Omelyan criticized his performance, calling the Polish manager a "whimsical showman" and a "straw man". The scandal broke lose after the government decided to overtake control of Ukrzaliznytsya from the Infrastructure Ministry.

Balczun in response accused Omelyan of sabotaging Ukrzaliznytsya "at the highest ministerial level" and stressed that "only a blind man" may refuse to admit the recent success of Ukrzaliznytsya.

Polish top manager Wojciech Balczun, a former CEO at the Polish Railways PKP Cargo, was appointed head of the Ukrainian railways in the spring of 2016.