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Port of Hamburg moves more cargo by rail 11 June 2019

Records 13.6% growth for container traffic in Q1, 2019

In Germany’s largest universal Port of Hamburg more than 135 million tons of seaborne cargo traffic are cleared annually. A major share of this freight reaches or leaves the port by rail. If you look at the shares of various modes of transport on the overland seaport-hinterland routes, then rail is in pole position in Hamburg with 48.2%, ahead of trucking with 41.4% and inland waterway with 10.2%.

In Q1, 2019, a total of 12.5 million tons of freight were transported by rail between the Port of Hamburg and destinations within Germany and Europe. This means an increase of 7.7%. The growth in container traffic was markedly higher. Here, in Q1, 2019, a total of 690,000 TEU – twenty-foot standard containers were transported by rail. This is a substantial increase of 13.6% on Q1, 2018. This growth in transport by rail is mainly due to the four new Trans-Atlantic liner services connecting Hamburg with the US, Canada and Mexico, and new container block-train services.

With a freight volume of more than 46 million tons carried annually on the tracks of Hamburg Port Railway, Hamburg is the largest rail-port by a long way. Some 12.0% of all rail freight services in Germany have their origin or destination in the port of Hamburg. In excess of 200 freight trains daily utilise the approximately 300 kilometres of rail network of Hamburg Port Railway and the large number of industrial sidings in the port.

More than 5,000 freight railcars have to be reliably positioned everyday either in blocks or individually in the handling terminals and industrial premises. The number of rail transport operators utilising this widespread rail network has risen in recent years to more than 150 companies. They, with their marketing organisations, provide a dense network of single railcar, shuttle and block train services throughout Germany and Europe. Within the port, companies take on marshalling duties. In all, some 2,100 marketed container-train services to and from Hamburg are on offer to the commercial shippers. This includes more than 200 container train services to destinations in China.

By sea, rail or air, the decision has to be taken frequently between these three modes of transport, when goods have to be carried between China and Europe. Here cost and time play an important role. Without a doubt, air freight is the fastest means of transport, with import and export freight between Asia and Europe only taking one to two days. Albeit, air freight is also very costly. On the contrary, sea freight between the two continents is very low-priced, but it can take anything up to eight weeks until the goods reach their final destination. The third way, transporting freight by rail, closes the gap between sea and air freight. Trains take two to three weeks between Asia and destinations in Europe and lie between the two where transport costs are concerned.