An all-purpose 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 47 million tons, including 2.6 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 750 sets of points. An additional 120 kilometres of track are located in 80 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. Around 200 freight trains reach or leave the port on every working day. Bulk cargoes, containers and other freight are transported by rail. Day-to-day work 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. Alltogether around 5,500 freight wagons use the Port Railway network every day.
DB Cargo is the largest provider of rail freight transport services. Besides, more than 160 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. Besides China, the Czech Republic, Austria and Poland are some of the most important international destinations for container train connections to and from the Port of Hamburg. The most important German states for transport volume in the German seaport hinterland services are Bavaria, Baden-Wuerttemberg, Saxony, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia..