Not the train, but barge to inland port Braunschweig

Containers at Hamburg port. Source: Port of Hamburg

Rather than rail, inland waterway shipping will be used to cover the short distance between the port of Hamburg and Braunschweig. This was agreed on Monday 13 July by port operators Hamburger Hafen und Logistik (HHLA) and Hafenbetriebsgesellschaft Braunschweig. The goal is to promote environmentally friendly inland waterway shipping in hinterland container transport between Hamburg and the inland port in Lower Saxony.

Rail-based hinterland traffic is one of the particular strengths of the port of Hamburg. However, this competitive advantage often cannot be utilised on short routes. The distance between Hamburg and Braunschweig, approximately 180 kilometres, is too short for the train. Inland waterway shipping is an attractive alternative to truck transport on this route. Transit time via the waterway is approximately 24 hours.

River Elbe

“Hamburg and Braunschweig have excellent connections via the river Elbe, the Elbe Lateral Canal and the Mittelland Canal”, said HHLA Executive Board member Jens Hansen, responsible for operations. He pointed out that 70,000 standard containers were moved between Hamburg and Braunschweig via the waterway last year, saving approximately 40,000 truck journeys.

““In order to shift additional transport volume to environmentally friendly inland waterway carriers, we want to work together with the Port of Braunschweig to develop new transport concepts for companies interested in forwarding goods”, said Hansen. This will relieve the burden on roads and reduce CO2 emissions at the same time.

7 times a week

There are currently seven inland waterway departures between Hamburg and Braunschweig per week. This strategic collaboration with an inland port is a first for HHLA. Hansen has announced that additional ones shall follow; the company is already conducting discussions with further inland ports in the hinterland of the Port of Hamburg.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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