A lorry driver from Ukraine waves from his lorry roof while waiting in a long queue to cross the Polish-Ukrainian border at the Dorohusk-Jagodzin crossing, in Okopy, Poland, 4 December 2023; Credit: Reuters/Kuba Stezycki/File Photo

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine began using train platforms on Thursday 7 December 2023 to bypass a border blockade by Polish lorry drivers, Ukrzalynitsya, Ukraine's rail network, said.

The first train deployed in the operation moved 23 lorries across the border from Ukraine into Poland, a statement said.

Officials were working out ways to speed up the procedure and efforts were underway to have lorries moved in the opposite direction, into Ukraine. Drivers were being moved across the border by bus, the statement said.

Polish lorry drivers began blocking the main corridors into Ukraine last month in protests against the terms of EU access for Ukrainian lorries. The blockage has led to higher prices for fuel and some food items as well as delays to drone deliveries to the Ukrainian army.

Valeriy Tkachyov, deputy director of the commercial department at Ukrainian railways, earlier told Interfax Ukraine news agency that the train was loaded and ready to go.

Tkachyov said the Ukrainian and Polish sides were currently harmonising technical issues. "As soon as this test train passes and all is well, we will launch this on a mass scale," Tkachyov said.

Ukrainian authorities say about 3,000 lorries are blocked on the Polish side of the border and authorities have not been able to agree with the protesters on terms to stop the action.

Polish hauliers' main demand is to stop Ukrainian lorry drivers having permit-free access to the European Union, something that Kyiv and Brussels say is impossible.