Port of Hamburg’s sea freight throughput increased 1.1% to 136.6 million tonnes in 2019

With a sea freight throughput up 1.1% to 136.6 million tonnes, Germany’s largest universal port can post an excellent result for 2019. Faced with the slowdown in world trade and trade sanctions, Hamburg has performs well in a tough environment, the company said in its statement.

“The Port of Hamburg is not only one of the main logistics centers in Europe, it also generates jobs in Hamburg and in a much larger area,” said Senator Michael Westhagemann. “In total, up to 165,000 workers employed there directly and indirectly have allowed us to start the year with these very gratifying numbers. The marked increase in container handling, growth in total sea freight throughput and the disproportionate surge in environmentally friendly rail traffic in the hinterland all show that the Port of Hamburg is on the right track. Yet it is also evident that we cannot rest on our laurels. We are therefore constantly improving the performance of the port: large-scale projects such as the adjustment of the channel and the replacement of the Rethe and Kattwyk bridges represent essential assets for our port customers around the world.

In the maritime-hinterland segment that is so important for the Port of Hamburg, it was the environmentally friendly container rail transport that recorded double-digit growth. In 2019, a total of 2.7 million TEUs were transported between the terminals in the Port of Hamburg and those in the hinterland. This represents an increase of 10.4 percent, setting a new record for the Hamburg Port Railway. In 2019, it handled around 62,000 freight trains with around 1.7 million boxcars. The total volume of freight carried increased three percent to 48.2 million tonnes.

In 2019, 5.8 million TEUs – up 7.8% – and 97.5 million tonnes – up 0.8% – were transferred to maritime-hinterland transport by rail, truck and waterway. Rail’s share in hinterland transport to / from Hamburg was 46.3% for containers, and 1% up to 49.4% in tonnage. The corresponding share for trucking was 41.4 per cent and for inland navigation vessels 9.2 per cent. “By setting a new record, Hamburg has further strengthened its position as Europe’s leading rail port. Shifting freight shipments to rail and inland waterways helps reduce pressure on the roads, ”said Ingo Egloff, Co-Managing Director of Port of Hamburg Marketing. This strong position is based in large part on the large number of over 100 line lines connecting Hamburg to the vast majority of over 1,000 seaports around the world. “Along with the inauguration of four new transatlantic liner services bringing us substantial growth in container transport with the United States and Mexico, a new service to Asia and one to India, as well as two multi-purpose services , have produced additional freight. We are maintaining this recovery in 2020 ”, explains Axel Mattern, colleague of Ingo Egloff on the HHM Board of Directors.

“Twelve months ago I said at this point that the Port of Hamburg was on the offensive again. The numbers we now have for 2019 provide impressive proof of this – and should also convince all those who are otherwise inclined to view the future with skepticism about the port, ”said Jens Meier, CEO of the Port Authority of Hamburg. “We are continuing our dedicated investments in infrastructure and digitization to keep the port on the right path we have adopted. In recent weeks, for example, HPA has taken important steps with the construction of the new Kattwyk railway bridge and the new Burchardkai link. Both will make our port more efficient and ready for the future. “

In 2019, a total of 2.6 million TEUs – up 1.7% – were handled in maritime container traffic with China, Hamburg’s most important trading partner. “For the moment, it remains impossible to be precise on the repercussions of the corona virus on the volumes of foreign trade with China. Depending on the duration of the restrictions in the Chinese economy, a marked slowdown could occur. With some delay this would then be reflected in the handling of freight to / from China in Hamburg. We can only assess the position at the end of the quarter, at the earliest, ”said Mattern. The board of directors of HHM assumes that slowdowns in rail transport between China and Hamburg are also to be expected. The new Silk Road offers more than 200 land links per week in addition to daily links with China by sea. Compared with other centers in Europe, the total number of containers handled by sea and land in Hamburg makes us the main hub for Chinese freight from afar, ”said Matter. For the maritime and land Silk Road, Hamburg is the central hub for the management of freight services.

The widening of the channel on the lower and outer Elbe is also progressing well.

Widening work on two sections of the channel adjustment is complete. On the section of the Elbe widened by the WSV – Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration – up to the border of the State of Hamburg, known as the “passing box”, since January 29, 2020 vessels of a Combined width of up to 98 meters were able to cross safely. Until now, the limit was 90 meters. The expansion of the passing zone along the remaining three-kilometer stretch of Hamburg territory will be completed by mid-year. Following this measure, the permissible width of vessels will be further increased. “With the initial widening of the Elbe Channel completed, we are on the right track, immediately improving the stopover conditions for mega-ships,” said Axel Mattern. “For the shipping industry and our port customers, this is truly rewarding news for the start of the year. “

For shipowners, the fairway adjustment not only simplifies stopovers in Hamburg, but also makes it easier to transport additional cargo. “A greater draft and an easier situation to pass on the Elbe allow a better use of the transport capacity on the ships”, explained Mattern. Once the Elbe has been dug, large container ships or bulk carriers will be able to transport or take around 18,000 tonnes of additional goods to / from Hamburg. In 2019, the Port of Hamburg recorded a total of 684 ULC calls – ultra-large container ships – with slot capacities of over 10,000 TEUs. Last year, 165 of them fell into the over 18,000 TEU category. This represents a ten percent growth, highlighting the need to adjust the fairway. The port and its handling terminals already handle mega-carriers with slot capacities exceeding 21,000 TEUs. Looking to the future, they are also preparing to safely handle the arrivals and departures of even larger vessels. “With the ‘HMM Algeciras’ in May, we are expecting the first call from a mega-operator with a capacity of 24,000 TEUs,” said Mattern.

For 2020, the marketing organization of the Port of Hamburg anticipates a stable result in container traffic and a slight increase in the handling of bulk goods.

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