Conference on the topic of rail freight transport brought more than 180 experts to Hamburg
The volume of freight carried on German and European transport corridors will continue to grow in coming years, calling for the upgrade of existing routes and the con-struction of new ones.
With about 14 per cent of all rail-borne freight traffic in Germany originating or arriving at the Port of Hamburg, the organisation Port of Hamburg Marketing (HHM) arranged a conference on the topic “Hamburg: Europe’s Hub For Rail Freight Transport”, which was held last month.
More than 180 participants from industry, trade, the transport sector, institutions and associations met in Hamburg to discuss the challenges and opportunities in connection with rail freight transportation. Particular focus was placed on traffic between the seaport and the hinterland, and on the transport policy framework in place in Germany and Europe. Enak Ferlemann, Parliamentary Secretary of State in the German Federal Ministry for Transport, Construction and Urban Development, outlined some of the objectives of the “Action Plan Rail Freight and Logistics”, to be published at the beginning of September. Ferlemann made clear that his ministry is giving top priority to the speedy upgrade of transport links to the seaport and the expansion of the existing rail infrastructure system. In relation to the project to deepen the fairway in the Lower and Outer Elbe river, Ferlemann expects planning approval to be given soon. Subject to approval from the federal states of Lower Saxony and Schleswig–Holstein, the measures to upgrade the fairway could start as early as 2011.
|From LEFT to RIGHT: Dr. Bernd Pahnke, port representative of DB Schenker, Friedrich Macher, Prof., VD/Spokesman for the Management Board of Rail Cargo Austria AG, Dr. Sebastian Jürgens, member of the Management Board of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA), moderator Lutz Lauenroth, deputy editor in charge DVZ, Raimund Stüer,member of the Management Board of TX Logistik AG and Alfred Manke,member of the Management Board of Seafreight Central Europe of Kühne + Nagel (AG & Co.) KG [Download]
For infrastructure projects on this scale, he holds that thoroughness comes before speed. He said that planning activities for the upgrade of Kiel Canal – another project of national significance – had also commenced. For rail-borne freight traffic, he said the first priority was the elimination of bottlenecks.
Torsten Schein, Head of Network Investment for DB Netz AG, introduced the planning and the investment framework for the “Immediate Action Programme” called “Seaport Hinterland Traffic” (SHHV) and, with a nod towards the federal government in Berlin, expressed a need for greater planning certainty. Core projects and their funding should in future be secured more reliably for a planning horizon of 5 to 6 years in close consultation with the federal government. He said that in addition to the planning and financing of the construction of new railway lines, it was the financing of existing infrastructure to the tune of 1.7 billion euros annually that represented an enormous challenge for DB Netz AG. He added that another major burden were investment projects prescribed by the European Union, such as the ECTS system, requiring funding potentially in the order of 2.7 to 4.4 billion euros. Capital spending for noise abatement measures along railway lines that often far exceeded statutory requirements were often the cause of additional costs which DB Netz AG was unable to budget, he added, insisting that this would need to change.
Harald Kreft, a member of the Management Board of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), pointed out in his presentation that during the crisis year of 2009, the Port of Hamburg Railway was able to increase its market share compared with other ports in Western Europe. This means that in rail-borne container traffic from and to eastern European countries, the Port of Hamburg was the clear market leader with a share of 82 per cent, ahead of ports like Rotterdam and Antwerp. He said that given this background, it was necessary to exert greater influence on the proposals for Euro-pean rail freight corridors developed by Brussels, so as to include the interests of the German seaports, the market leaders in the rail transport segment. Kreft suggested that there is still a heightened need to catch up and push through corrections to the planning for the TEN-T networks and the ERMTS corridors. Hamburg is also well positioned in terms of the number of registered railway transport companies licensed to operate on the Port of Hamburg Railway network with 80 companies, compared with Rotterdam (12) and Antwerp (10). In the discussion forum that followed and which featured Ulrich Koch, General Manager of Eisenbahnen und Verkehrsbetriebe Elbe-Weser GmbH (EVB), and Michail Stahlhut, member of the Management Board of Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen AG (OHE), participants called for the more efficient use of railway tracks, the upgrade of rail hubs and branch lines, as well as the opening up of the railway networks throughout Europe, amongst other measures.
Dr Sebastian Jürgens, a member of the Management Board of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA), started off the second half of the conference by presenting his company’s intermodal transport concept. He said that with its products, HHLA was relying on a high rate of utilisation of the container trains on the main run, which linked the Port of Hamburg directly with the HHLA hub terminals in the hinterland, such as Prague. Dispatch of the containers to the various target destinations serviced via Prague only occurred at the hub terminals. He indicated that the same efficient production concept was in use for the leg to Hamburg. The advantage for customers: a set frequency of departures in each direction, guaranteeing one container train every six hours in each direction. He said that an added advantage was the greater utilisation of capacities thanks to state-of-the-art rail cars, providing each train with a carrying capacity of 92 TEU. The system is to be expanded by adding further HHLA hub terminals.
Friedrich Macher, Prof., VD/Spokesman for the Management Board of Rail Cargo Austria AG, drew attention to the special characteristics of the rail freight sector in Austria, which has achieved a 30 per cent share of the freight transport market – a figure unmatched anywhere in Europe. He put this level of success down to the connecting services which are heavily promoted in Austria. Some 1,200 rail sidings with an annual volume of approx. 65 million tons provide a major share of the total volume of freight carried by Rail Cargo Austria, which in 2009 amounted to 120 million tons. Rail Cargo Austria has positioned itself as a European railway logistics enterprise and, given the growing volume of freight, sees the solution in a targeted expansion of the network. Prof. Macher’s objective is to engage in cooperative ventures with selected partners. For this reason, the company's share of own production was only 25 per cent. He said green logistics was set to meet with increased demand in future, and that the difficulty lay in achieving appropriate pricing for green logistics services.
Dr. Bernd Pahnke, port representative of DB Schenker, then pointed out that as early as June 2010, more containers had left the Port of Hamburg by rail than during the record month of June 2008, before the crisis struck. In the first half of the year 2010 alone, DB Schenker carried around 920,000 TEU in the container traffic between the Port of Hamburg and the hinterland. He added that environmentally friendly container transport by rail also made a significant contribution in terms of cutting CO2 emissions and relieves pressure on the road network. Pahnke also reported signs of interest in green logistics, but said that customers are still reluctant to accept the additional cost involved. The Port of Hamburg is the leading source of cargo for DB Schenker, contributing 12 per cent to the rail freight segment and accounting for 30 per cent of the CT segment. To cope with the growing volumes of freight to and from the Port of Hamburg, Pahnke recommended more finely-tuned coordination and further improvements in the exchange of information between all parties involved in the logistics chain through more comprehensive IT solutions. To reduce the load on the port’s infrastructure, one option for handling peak volumes would be the establishment of rail hubs both near the port as well as at more distant points. Additional participants in the discussion that followed were Alfred Manke, member of the Management Board of Seafreight Central Europe of Kühne + Nagel (AG & Co.) KG and Raimund Stüer, member of the Management Board of TX Logistik AG. For Alfred Manke, pre-sorting of containers destined for the various terminals at the Port of Hamburg at inland hubs would represent one possible approach towards optimising the flow, since it would eliminate the need for trains to stop at the Maschen marshalling yards. K+N relies very heavily on rail traffic. TX Logistik and the boxXpress partner companies carry around 400,000 TEU annually. Most of these container trains bypass the Maschen marshalling yards and are distributed across the terminals at the Port of Hamburg via the port railway station Alte Süderelbe, or are assembled there before their journey to the hinterland. The company HGK handles train assembly at the Port of Hamburg on behalf of TX Logistik. German ports account for about 50 per cent of total freight carried by TX Logistik. Raimund Stüer sees scope for improvement in rail freight transport operations through more efficient utilisation of existing railway lines, and he would like to see 24/7 operational readiness at certain inland terminals. Stüer finds it unacceptable that while port terminals today are operational 24 hours a day throughout the week, at the other end of the transport chain, in the hinterland, terminal handling operations are restricted.
Port of Hamburg Marketing CEO Claudia Roller considered this inaugural specialist conference on the topic of rail freight held in this particular format to be an outstanding platform for the exchange of information and as a forum for discussion. Claudia Roller: “As the marketing organisation for the Port of Hamburg, we deal with all issues arising along the transport chains, and we use the events we organise to bring the participants in these transport flows together. In doing so, we are providing an excellent platform for networking and are promoting the exchange of opinions among the various participants in the market."