Hamburg Expands Rail Terminal


By MarEx 2016-05-12 18:44:19

The port of Hamburg is responding to growing demand for rail containers by expanding the rail terminal at its Container Terminal Altenwerder from seven tracks to nine. This will give increase capacity from 140,000 to 930,000 TEUs.
Since 2010, annual container throughput at the rail terminal has risen by almost 20 percent to 769,000 TEUs in 2015, the highest throughput of any container rail terminal in Germany. Rail’s share of total container volume has also continued to grow in recent years, says Hamburger Hafen und Logistik (HHLA). The German Federal Ministry of Transport expects that transport services of rail freight traffic will increase by 43 percent by 2030.
The total area of the rail terminal will be unaffected by the expansion. The distance between the tracks will become smaller so checking the container data will no longer be done, as before, by terminal staff who drive along between the trains. For this reason, a so-called “train gate” had to be built. This train gate automatically records the container data on incoming trains as they enter the terminal. The automatic recording is quicker than the manual recording carried out previously, which means that the train handling operations can begin sooner. By no longer using the diesel-powered vehicles to check the trains, emissions of CO2 at the already largely electrified terminal will also be further reduced.

The expansion of the rail terminal began in early April, and construction is expected to last for six months.

Hamburg Rail Network Setting European Benchmark

In their Best route market study for containerized imports to South Germany, published at the beginning of March, Drewry investigated which ports containers imported from Shanghai can be transported fastest and cheapest to southern Germany, i.e. Munich, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Ulm and Nuremberg. In almost all markets under consideration, Hamburg came out better than Rotterdam, Antwerp and the southern ports in the Mediterranean. 

Contributing to this are numerous direct services, a high departure frequency for container block trains and the fast transit times to/from the Hamburg quay wall, says HHLA. In all of the examples quoted, one of the Port of Hamburg’s greatest strengths was the high concentration of container train departures. Ulm is an example: This market is only served by Hamburg and the southern Port of Trieste which only has one weekly container train service to Ulm. If this train to/from Trieste is missed, then it is either trucking or a week’s wait, cancelling out the time-saving from the shorter sea transit. In contrast, Hamburg offers a daily scheduled train service to/from Hamburg.

According to Drewry, Hamburg is traditionally the strongest port for the southern German hinterland and will not lose this position in the foreseeable future.