efficient and environmentally friendly freight transport

A universal port’s success rests on several factors. One of these is the quality of its hinterland infrastructure. For distances of above 300 kilometres, on many routes in Europe the systemic advantages of rail as a carrier hit gold when compared to trucking and inland waterway vessels: Rapidity, suitability for transport of large and compact volumes, value for money, reliability and environmental compatibility. A single 800-metre freight train can transport as much as some 50 trucks.


Trade and industry call for transport services causing less environmental impact. The Port of Hamburg has backed rail ever since the dawn of the railway age. Today it offers access to all terminals and industrial firms in the port via the Port Railway, founded in 1866. With total volume transported of 46 million tons, including 2.3 million TEU, the Port Railway takes top place among Europe’s ports. In public areas within the Port of Hamburg, the Port Railway owned by Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) operates the rail network. This extends around 300 kilometres, integrating 850 sets of points. An additional 160 kilometres of track are located in 130 private sidings owned by industrial, cargo handling and logistics companies. The Port of Hamburg is immensely significant for German rail freight traffic. Hamburg is the source or destination for at least twelve percent of national rail freight traffic. Two statistics provide striking evidence of that. Around 200 freight trains reach or leave the port on every working day. Bulk cargoes, containers and other freight are transported by rail. Everyday sights in the port include block trains loaded with up to 6,600 tons of iron ore for steelworks in Salzgitter and Eisenhüttenstadt, and trainloads of potash salt from Werratal region bound for K+S’s Kalikai. Altogether around 5,000 railcars roll along the Port Railway network every day. DB Schenker Rail is the largest provider of rail freight transport services. Besides Schenker, more than 100 registered rail operating companies meanwhile use the Port Railway network. These offer a tightly meshed network of wagonload services, and shuttle and block train links throughout Europe. Among the most important destinations outside Germany for container train services with the Port of Hamburg are the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland and Switzerland. The top German states by freight volume transported on domestic seaport-hinterland rail services are Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia.
Railway Station Railway Station "Alte Süderelbe"
 

Rail access to all Hamburg terminals

To ensure smooth rail traffic, all the port’s container, multi-purpose and bulk cargo terminals possess highperformance, state-of-the-art rail facilities. Container block trains, for example, can run directly into container terminals without any preliminary shunting. Ondock container rail terminals feature 700-metre sidings, sufficient for handling entire freight trains. Cutting-edge gantry cranes facilitate rapid loading and unloading. IT systems store and manage all container transport data. The success of Europe’s largest rail port is reflected in the volumes handled at its container terminals. In 2014, a total of 785,000 TEU were handled at the on-dock rail terminal of HHLA Container Terminal Altenwerder, for example. That makes it Germany’s largest container rail terminal. In recent years considerable effort has been put into expanding the container rail terminal on Burchardkai, the Port of Hamburg’s largest container terminal. Last year 629,000 TEU were handled there, representing over 20 percent growth on the previous year.

New bridges disentangle rail and road traffic

To enable rail and road traffic in the port to roll even more smoothly, in constructing new bridges HPA is pursuing the deliberate separation of transport modes and traffic flows. The new Rethe bascule bridge is just one exemplary project, replacing the Rethe lift bridge taken into service in 1934. The new structure will enter service in 2016. Separate wings will then be available for road and rail traffic. Being no longer required, the old lift bridge will then be removed. Taken into service in 1973, Kattwyk Lift Bridge is an additional example of separation of rail and road traffic. This is Germany’s largest lift bridge catering for both. In parallel to the bridge, which is 290 metres long and 90 metres high, a new, second bridge is to be built by the end of the decade. This will be reserved entirely for rail traffic.

Important gateway for international rail transport services

Hamburg-Billwerder Terminal has a high reputation as a hub interlinking truck and rail, or what are primarily known as continental, intermodal road/rail transport services. Not least due to its geographical location, the terminal performs a growing number of other functions. It is not only an arrival and departure point for German and international shuttle trains, but also a significant rail/rail gateway terminal for international long-haul transport services. With what are known as short shuttle-trains, Hamburg-Billwerder also links the Baltic ports of Kiel, Lübeck and Rostock with the European intermodal network. For some maritime containers from the Port of Hamburg, the inland terminal also functions as an additional hub that enables these to reach the hinterland from Hamburg.

 

How are rail movements controlled in the Port of Hamburg?

In handling rail movements in the Port of Hamburg, loading centres and rail operators require
access to transPORT rail, the Port Railway’s traffic management system. This forms the interface
for freight and data transport. Users can obtain access either through an interface or via the
Internet (Web Client).
Via transPORT rail, users can:

  • Call up data on train movements
  • Pre-register railcar sequences
  • Check track occupancy
  • Place transport contracts
  • Determine railcar destinations
  • Arrange freight and/or railcar movements
  • Monitor engine locations
  • Notify dangerous goods details (GEGIS)
  • Maintain master data
  • Adjust user settings


To use transPORT rail, rail operators enter a contract with the Hamburg Port Authority that also regulates the fees. They can authorize their operators or service providers to process their transport data by granting them the appropriate authorization.

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