HHLA subsidiary CTD Container-Transport-Dienst, which carries out a large proportion of the container transfers between the different terminals and depots at the Port of Hamburg, is increasingly using inland water vessels. In May 2017, it transported 1,058 of its 14,469 containers using these vessels. This amounts to 7.2 percent, a record high for the company. Of all of the transfers it completed in the first half of 2017, an average of 6.4 percent utilised inland vessels, 4 percentage points higher than in the first half of 2016.
Although the majority of transfers are still carried out by trucks, CTD’s Managing Director Ralph Frankenstein sees the waterway as an important alternative for the future: “As container truck operators, we rely on having a well-functioning infrastructure within the Port. So we are trying to reduce the load on streets and bridges by moving increasingly towards these ‘wet transfers’. Together with our customers and our partner, the Deutsche Binnenreederei (DBR), we actively seek out containers that are suitable for this method of transport. These include very heavy, 20-foot containers and multiple containers that need to be taken on similar routes.”
Containers that are transported on the waterway are normally loaded with particularly heavy goods, such as intermediate aluminium products or potatoes. A typical transfer carried out with DBR might for example involve empty containers being brought from the Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA) to the O’Swaldkai multi-purpose terminal, where they are loaded with cars and then taken back to the CTA. DBR, therefore, uses inland water vessels which don’t have an own propulsion and which are loaded at the quayside. They then wait there until they are picked up by a pushed barge to be transported together as a fleet.
Managing Director Frankenstein hopes to be able to win over more customers to this logistics concept. “Transporting containers on inland water vessels is not only a cost-effective and environmentally-friendly solution but we also manage and assume custody of the containers on the customer’s behalf. If they wish, we can even put the containers on a train to take them out to the hinterland.”