Do you have some roads?

Ukrainian roads

The level of road development in any country shows the really technological progress and civility in this particular state. Modern developed country cannot be imagined without a decent roads, their sufficient quantity and level of quality. It is no secret roads are the indirect mark of the economical conditions and the overall situation in the country. Nikolai Gogol said: "Russians has two problems – they are fools and roads". It is known opinion, that Ukraine is not Russia promoting last time to and fro. But Gogol was Ukrainian and knew our problems from the inside. So how is it going now in modern Ukraine?

Different types of Ukrainian on-ground transport would be prospected in details in this article. We`ll take a look at the Ukrainian river-transport, railroads and roads separately and make the general analysis.

ukraine roads

Ukraine has a very convenient and profitable geographical location as it lies on the strategic ways between different Eastern European countries. It causes an intensive road traffic not only by passenger cars but also trucks and other long vehicles and trailers. Recent declaration of Ukrainian politics about willing of convergence with EU can increase the load on Ukrainian roads. Do they have necessary margin of safety or not we`ll try to explore.


So, Ukraine has 172,6 thousand kilometers of pavement. Comparing to USA (6,4 million km) and Russia (near 800 000 km) Ukraine has a lack of road network (same as Russia). But now we have 95% of hard road surface which was only 10% in 50`s. Below we can see the table with common information about Ukrainian transport. And relying on it we can produce an analysis easier.


Indicators Types of roads
Railways Roads
Operating length of ways (thousand km) 50,8 172,6
Average distance of 1 passenger (km) 110 10
The volume of cargo (billiard km/ MM tons) 159,8293,5 9,3444,5
Number of passengers (billion passenger-km/ MM ) 54,4498,7 27,42511,6


As you can see, railway transport is the one of the most developed branches in Ukraine and it has a significant role in the economics of country (especially in cargo transit). But not everybody uses railways only to reach somewhere. It`s a lot of drivers in our country and most of tourists arrive to us by car so it is impossible to get along just with bare railways. But the roads, ways, tracks and highways in our country have a very different structure and surface depending on region so the naked numbers in the table above do not represent the reality of situation at all. We`re gonna make some conclusions about transport system of Ukraine relying on real facts and self experience.


Railway transport

This type of transport takes 4-th place in the world by total railroad length by now (after USA, Russia and Canada). Impressive indeed. It has 40-60% of total cargo transporting a year, 50-70% of passenger traffic. Also it has 40% of electrified paths. It gives ability to suburban electric trains to route. This kind of railway trains coursing to the comparatively short distances and has the cheapest tickets.


By the way, railways are the most rentable type of transport for loose cargo (coal, chalk, different ores, agriculture production etc.) conveyance.


The reverse side in this beautiful picture is the extremely battered roadways. 80% and up to 90% of railroads are outworn. Besides. the 15-17% of wooden sleepers are out of charge and needing replacement but the state has no money to repair the transport system completely so we`re taking a known part of a risk when using railway transport. But there is no choice in most of cases.


In the end of 90-th – early 00`s railroad in Ukraine experienced a boom of development and repair. It was determined by management of Georgiy Kirpa (Hero of Ukraine, 2002) who was the Minister of Transport and Communications. His reforms and management ware the reasons of stability and growth of the railways as the branch of economics.


Loss-making industry has become profitable. The offsets are gone … Wages pay in time. There are colossal construction and repair work deployed at the "Ukrainian Railways" ("Ukrzaliznytsya"). – "Weekly mirror", 11 of May 2002

As a result of Kirpa`s management we achieved reliably working railroad with modernized and generally rebuilt railway stations, new rolling-stock. Kirpa was the initiator of  new high-speed routes between Kharkov and Kiev ("Capital express"). The ticket-pricing was stable and transparent.


Now the railroad existing at the Kirpa`s built basis. Railways getting on in years and so are railway stations. But there are a lot of new high-speed routes established. Like Kiev-Odessa, Kiev-Lvov, Kharkov-Donetsk and so on. Passengers are able to buy or book tickets online at the convenient site of "Ukrzaliznytsya".


As for electric trains – it is the implement to get to near placed town. Maximum to the neighbor region. This kind of transport has the cheapest tickets and the longest travel time. But our "electrichkas" are comparatively civilized. In the interregional ones you can meet conditioners and separated soft seats. There are wagon-restaurant and nice personal. And in the nearby routed trains you will seat at the wooden bench listen to spontaneous artists and different-stuff sellers, beggars, drunk slime also not excluded. And all this will stop in-and-out at the every pillar 🙂


If you want to go to Ukraine already by train, you must be ready to wait at the border of country for new train as our transport system differs from European in interval between rails so it`s necessary to change the train to continue the motion.




We will limit all boring information about Ukrainian roads just with mentioning that road-system of Ukraine is the most important part of the transport system of the state. It overcomes railways by the total cargo transporting 4,5-5 times and by passenger traffic 5-6 times. Bus transport carrying the same passenger traffic as all other kinds of transport altogether (trolleybus, tram, railway, underground, taxi, sea and river-transport, air transport). Auto transport dominating in trucking on short distances (20 km on every ton of cargo in average). Also trucking is the most safety way to deliver cargo door-to-door. There is a sufficient number of cargo exchanging  terminals, warehouses and stations in Ukraine.


But these are almost all advantages and benefits of our roads. Let`s take a look at them with more criticizing eye. We should note that our auto transport system doesn`t meet most of European and international standards such as max. speed, axle load, not complementing modern road signs and markings, the necessary number of auto repair shops and medical centers, markets and leisure centers, fuel and lubricating oil stations, telecommunication kiosks etc. The roads of category 1 (highways with high speed movement and several lanes) almost do not exist and nor in construction. We have only a few highways with decent pave and several lanes which were built in the near past. They are mostly located between large cities (Kiev-Odessa, Kyiv-Zhytomir, Kharkov- Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov-Kiev, Kiev-Lvov etc.). There are normal pave, 2-3 lanes and weak traffic so you can travel with maximum speed – 130 km/h. But we must emphasize: every highway is fragmented! It means you can drive from one city to some town on the route by good pave surface and after this town road can SUDDENLY become worse or even awful! Nobody can give you a warranty for good condition of all highway. They are building by parts and then destroying by parts. One area can be perfect and the other can be destroyed. That`s severe reality of Ukraine. The same situation we can observe and on regional roads with one difference: most of them have one lane and pavement worse than on republican highways. But on the other hand you can travel for free all over Ukraine, we have no toll roads. And once you travel by Ukrainian road you`ll understand why 🙂


The real examples of Ukraine` roads

 ukraine roads

For Euro-2012 in Kharkov was represented a new modernized Ring Road. It was constructed nearly in a year and responded all the requirements. But it has just one lane with rare exceptions near traffic lights and downhill areas so it`s generally impossible to overtake the slowpoking lorry in front of you because of intense traffic until the crossroad. This is so embarrassing, you know… When you must drag back the old KAMAZ or ZIL with 60-70 km/h on the new asphalt and breathe with used diesel. Oh…


And a little bit from forums. People speaking about road-conditions at the Western Ukraine (Kiev-Lvov):


Nataly Evstratova: Can you please tell the real condition of the road Kyiv-Lviv on March 31. thank you.

Pfyr: Yesterday travelled Kremenets Ternopil-Dubno-Rovno-Kyiv-Zhytomyr (Obukhov)

sector Dubno-Kiev is clear, took 130 km/h speed mode. BUT: it is better not to stay in the left lane – a dozen places where uncleared snow suddenly occupies half of the left row were counted.

Well, traditionally, 90-70-50 marks, as well as "white" village – there is usually (cops) hidden, yesterday counted 5 crews, despite the solid fog.

MrMarsh: And there in Brodsky region have ice accretions remained, careful there.

romariko: And how`s the road Ternopil-Dubno? And if one maybe recently traveled – Ternopil-Yaremche?

gondrab: Drived a month ago. In the area of ​​Dubno more or less, drivable, even trying to patch something, but in the Ternopil region begins something quite monstrous. I had never seen such wells.

In Frankivsk region, more or less, you can go. Very carefully in Monastyrisko.

The whole interval is recommended to travel by daytime.


But you must be afraid of such ugly truth. People in Ukraine buy expensive cars and travel somehow. And you would bear it easily. It`s like extreme tourism 🙂 And this is our inrepeatable charming mentality, adjoining to folly and irresponsibility. Does anybody can resist such temptation? 🙂


And the last word about our roads. These are the reason not to be in European Union. Until we learn how to construct a decent roads we can`t join any union. Germans propose to built us the highways like in Germany for Euro 2012. But our government refused. "Expensively" – they said. Maybe it`s truth. But there is alternative opinion. Eugene Prusenko came to management of Ukrainian Automobile Roads in 2012. Before him the manager was Wladimir Demishkan, who was near to Victor Yanukovich and own almost all asphalt-making factories and won almost all tenders to repair and build new roads. Now it costs 4 million hrivnas to repair 1 km of road and up to 20 million hrn. to repair road of first category (Kyiv-Zhytomir) and the repair of roads must be maintained every 1-3 years and overhaul in every 10-15 years. Construction of 1 km category 1 road will be cost up to 5.5 million dollars (2 million in USA). But the warranty in the road will be just 3 years!!! So Ukraine must find enormous amount of money on road construction and then every year spend a lot of money on repairs. Ingeniously! Our roads is eternally loss-making branch which is profitable only for those people who own a big asphalt-factories. They will never lose their golden stream and regular Ukrainian people will never have decent roads with this system.


  1. Hi, I have travelled roads around Ukraine in 2010 and 2012, these would be the worst condition paved roads in general that I have travelled on any country.
     In the state where I live in Australia, being New South Wales, any major road is now constructed by the Government department in conjunction with a private civil engineering company, when the contract is set out at the beginning, there is a 10 year maintenance obligation on the private company to maintain the road and all of its faults, it may be slightly more expensive initially, but it does ensure that the contractor will not short cut the construction quality so that it only makes it just past the 3 year warranty period, this was the case here also that the tax payer and motorist had to keep coughing up money to repair/rebuild dodgy workmanship.


    • If you`d be unlucky to drive them once again in the near future, you will be shocked – the roads become even worse last 2-3 years. The local distal and province roads are almost gone away completely. The only positive thing – the big intercity highways can boast with tolerable quality of the surface.


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