Port of Hamburg sea freight recovers in 2021

After the slowdown of the previous year caused by the corona pandemic, in 2021 the trend of sea freight throughput in the port of Hamburg was more positive than expected. This totaled 128.7 million tonnes, almost 2% more than the first year of the corona pandemic. At 8.7 million TEUs (standard 20ft containers), container handling increased by 2.2%.

Rail freight transport reached a record level in 2021. Last year, the Hamburg Port Railway handled a transport volume of 48.5 million tonnes, up 4%. At 2.79 million TEUs, an 8% advance was achieved for containers. “Hamburg is impressively expanding its position as the largest rail port in the world. Despite the continuing challenges caused by the pandemic and disrupted transport chains, a new record figure has been reached for environmentally friendly rail freight transport,” said Ingo Egloff, co-CEO of HHM – Port of Hamburg Marketing .

Rail growth was fueled by additional container train services and increasing shipments in the medium distance segment of up to 300 kilometres. The share of the modal split of rail in container transport in Hamburg has meanwhile reached around 51.5%. The transfer of freight shipments to rail has been exemplary. This frees up the roads and preserves the environment. At 46.1%, trucking’s share is down. For container transport to and from the port of Hamburg, inland shipping reached a share of 2.4%.

Rapid growth in container shipments along the New Silk Road
In addition to maritime transport, an ever-increasing number of containers is transported between China and Hamburg by rail. Hamburg is Germany’s main point of arrival and departure for container shipping and container train services on the New Silk Road.

“Even though currently around 20 days are required for rail transport over the 12,000 kilometers between China and Hamburg, the land route via the New Silk Road is faster than a ship by sea. For urgent goods, container train services therefore offer an attractive alternative for transport between Hamburg and China.Last year, around 160,000 TEUs were transported by rail between Hamburg and more than 25 destinations in China, an impressive increase by 51%. Various providers market a total of more than 290 train services in China to and from Hamburg,” explained Axel Mattern, co-CEO of HHM.

Sea freight throughput in the port of Hamburg in 2021
In 2021, the global repercussions of the corona pandemic once again affected handling and transport trends in Germany’s largest universal port. Over the year as a whole, 128.7 million tonnes of maritime cargo were loaded or unloaded at the terminals of the Port of Hamburg, an increase of 1.9% compared to the previous year. General cargo throughput, up 1.3% to 88.9 million tonnes, and bulk cargo handling, up 3.3% to 39.8 million tonnes, contributed. In the container handling segment, Hamburg’s 2021 throughput amounted to 8.7 million TEU and increased by 2.2%.

In the bulk goods segment, the throughput of goods to be entered at 21.6 million tonnes was ahead by 11.2%. The main contributions came from coal imports, up 15.9% to 5.5 million tonnes, and ore imports, up 10.6% to 10.5 million tonnes. In the field of agricultural bulk, a total of 6.4 million tonnes were handled in 2021. The 14.7% drop is attributable to the drop in grain throughput. Liquid cargo throughput in 2021 increased by 1.7% to 11.8 million tonnes. The increase in exports of petroleum products is mainly at the origin of this slight increase, which is part of the generally very sustained development of this segment.

“Considering the cargo volumes handled in the port, it should also be remembered that of German production alone, goods worth around 116 billion euros are exported worldwide every year via the port of Hamburg. The Port of Hamburg supports around 607,000 jobs in Germany,” Egloff said.

Source: Port of Hamburg

China, the United States and Singapore lead the ranking of Hamburg’s top ten partner countries for container handling
Among the Port of Hamburg’s top ten partner countries for container handling, there was no change among the top six. The slowdown in maritime container handling with China recorded the previous year has been reversed. In 2021, an advance of 5.5% to 2.6 million TEUs has been achieved. China has cemented its position as Hamburg’s top trading partner by a wide margin. “We are delighted that with its China Germany Express (CGX), Hapag-Lloyd connects the port of Hamburg every week with the southern Chinese terminal in Dachan Bay which is part of the port of Shenzhen.
This new container liner service will further expand the range of 18 total liner services connecting Hamburg to Chinese ports and consolidate Hamburg’s position as China’s leading port,” Mattern said.

Below China in the ranking of Hamburg’s trading partners in container shipping comes the USA – up 4.5%, Singapore – up 0.9%, Russia – down 3% , Sweden – up 7.5% and Great Britain – down 9.9%. The Port of Hamburg’s Top Ten is completed by Poland – up 20.7% to seventh place, South Korea – down 0.4% to eighth place, Denmark up 4.6 % in ninth place and Brazil up 3.2% in tenth place.

The completion of the channel adjustment on the Lower and Outer Elbe brings benefits
Compared to the situation before the deepening of the channel, navigation on arrival and departure now benefits from an increase in draft – depending on the size of the vessel – of between one meter and 1.90 metres. Irrespective of the tide, Megamax vessels with a width of up to 62.50 meters or a length of 400 meters can now enter port with a draft of up to 13.10 meters. Before the adjustment, the limit was only 11.40 meters. Depending on the tide, when leaving the limit is now 14.10 meters. On approach, a draft of 15.40 meters is now possible. The previously possible maximum was only 13.60 meters.
“We would like to thank our customers and partners for the trust placed in us – the Port of Hamburg during the channel adjustment project, which has been in progress for many years. Since the end of January this year, we can offer maximum drafts of between 1.00 and 1.90 m – depending on the size of the vessel – in independent and tide-dependent traffic. This helps to strengthen the competitiveness of the Port of Hamburg”, says Jens Meier, CEO of the Hamburg Port Authority.

An added benefit is the now assured opportunity for easier passage through mega-ships. On eight kilometers near Wedel, for example, a “passage box” was built. This allows vessels of a combined width of up to 104 meters to pass each other. The channel between Wedel and the Stör estuary was also widened from 300 to 320 meters. Ships with a combined width of less than 92 meters can now pass each other safely there.

The co-CEOs of Port of Hamburg Marketing, Axel Mattern and Ingo Egloff, welcome the adjustment of the Elbe channel, which has now been successfully completed. “For maritime transport and our commercial port customers, these simplifications of access to Germany’s largest universal port also offer them the advantage of being able to transport more goods via Hamburg. Last year alone, 221 mega-containers with slot capacities between 18,000 and 24,000 TEU called the Port of Hamburg. This is an increase of 16.9%, which underlines the enormous importance of the adjustment of the now completed channel for the rapid and safe control of traffic on the Elbe.

With efficient transport routes, smart logistics solutions and the increasing use of low-emission energy sources and technologies, we are on the right track for sustainable growth,” Mattern said. On the land side, environmentally friendly rail plays the main role in freight transportation, quickly and reliably connecting domestic market regions to the port.

Outlook for 2022
“The war in Ukraine will have an impact on the development of the throughput of the Port of Hamburg. However, it is not yet possible to say to what extent the sanctions imposed on Russia will influence the handling of goods. A realistic forecast for the current year cannot be made at this stage as the pandemic may also continue to impact global trade,” Mattern says. For 2022, the Port of Hamburg’s marketing organization hopes for a stable overall trend in sea freight handling.
Source: Port of Hamburg