‘Masterpiece’ rail swing bridge open at Port of Hamburg

Europe’s largest rail drawbridge has been officially opened at the Port of Hamburg with a symbolic first train journey. The new ‘bascule’ bridge provides a vital link between the port’s Hohe Schaar station and its key container terminals and operations.

Though partially opened to cars in 2016, construction work on the new bridge is now complete and it is officially open for all port business. One of the Port of Hamburg’s most significant infrastructure projects in decades, it replaces the Rethe lift bridge which dates back to 1934. Weighing approximately 2,800 tonnes, the bridge has a total width span of 104 metres, with a 10.2 metre wide rail clearance.


By providing what Hamburg Port Authority describes as a ‘systematic separation’ of rail and road traffic, the bridge will cut long waiting periods for cars and trucks. Until now, the street had to be closed up to 40 times a day to enable freight trains to cross the bridge. The bascule bridge, which is essentially a double-leafed vertical swing bridge, fulfils an important function for the port as the main road link to and from the south towards the A1 motorway, and as the second crossing of the Southern Elbe river towards the A7 motorway for around 7,000 vehicles a day.

Frank Horch, Senator of Economy, Transport and Innovation, said: “This bascule bridge is a masterpiece of engineering. The demanding construction underlines the Senate’s intention to continuously develop the Port of Hamburg and make it viable for the future. The new bridge is a significant release and improvement for port traffic operations.”


Jens Meier, CEO of Hamburg Port Authority, added: “I am pleased that we have reached another milestone with regard to the modernisation and renewal of our infrastructure today. The new bascule bridge benefits all users. As a result of the separation of road and rail, the two will no longer interfere with each other, which will result in fewer traffic jams in the port.”

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a journalist for RailFreight.com - a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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