3,000 massive LNG pipes on rail in quest of Germany’s energy transition

DB Cargo train transports pipes for the pipeline construction of the Brunsbüttel site in Germany. Image: © Deutsche Bahn AG / Oliver Lang. Deutsche Bahn AG / Oliver Lang

The last few months have been hectic in northwestern Germany’s Brunsbüttel Elbe port, where a new LNG import terminal is under construction. Such energy infrastructures typically demand colossal transport projects to move components and materials, but who said that rail could not also deliver? DB Cargo proved this by transporting 3,000 massive pipes to construct the terminal’s energy transmission line.

The new LNG import terminal in the Brunsbüttel Elbe port will facilitate Germany with its energy supply diversification and transition plans and its attempt to reduce “dependence on Russian imports”, as Volker Wissinng, German minister for digital affairs and transport, put it. It is expected to begin operations at the beginning of next winter and is also suitable for importing and distributing greener hydrogen.

Pipes loaded on DB Cargo’s train. Image: © Deutsche Bahn AG / Oliver Lang.

Massive cargo size

A critical part of energy supply terminals is their connection to the hinterland. Kilometres-long pipelines crossing the land are not an unusual sight nor an exception for the Brunsbüttel site. Here’s where DB Cargo contributed, proving that rail logistics and transport can contribute even to the most challenging transport projects given the willing and proper coordination.

For the Brunsbüttel site, DB Cargo teamed up with Zalzgitter AG, one of Europe’s largest steel producers and Gasunie, Germany’s energy network operator and transported 3,000 steel pipes, 18-metres-long, 5-tons-heavy and 80-centimetres-wide each, to build the new LNG terminal’s energy transition line.

Pipes loaded on DB Cargo’s train. Image: © Deutsche Bahn AG / Oliver Lang.

“Successful energy transition requires successful logistics. In Brunsbüttel, as we did in Wilhelmshaven, we show that rail can also transport unusual goods such as those pipes quickly and easily. Thanks to our innovative customer Salzgitter AG for this joint, forward-looking project”, commented Sigrid Nikutta, DB board member for freight transport.

From left to right: Volker Wissing, Federal Minister for Digital Affairs and Transport; Frank Schnabel, Managing Director Brunsbüttel Ports GmbH; Sebastian Bross, Group Management of Salzgitter AG; Sigrid Nikutta, DB board member freight transport; Tobias Goldschmidt, Minister for Energy Transition, Climate Protection, Environment and Nature of the State of Schleswig-Holstein. Image: © Deutsche Bahn AG / Oliver Lang.

A port with rail ambitions

Apart from an LNG hub in the making, the Brunsbüttel port, located at the mouth of river Elbe, also has rail ambitions. DB, for instance, mentioned that it serves the port via Itzehoe and that the facility has efficient rail siding.

From his side, Frank Schnabel, managing director of Brunsbüttel Ports GmbH, was explicit about rail: “It is once again evident that the trimodal Elbe port in Brunsbüttel, with its efficient siding, is making an elementary contribution to German energy supply security and the energy transition. As an energy hub with nationwide importance, it is, therefore, crucial to further expand the rail connection at the Brunsbüttel site to promote the shift of traffic to rail.”

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

1 comment op “3,000 massive LNG pipes on rail in quest of Germany’s energy transition”

bönström bönström|07.02.23|20:15

Safely sustainable, high quality, infrastructure systems, by railways, pipes, road and sea, etc. all available is needed for redundancy (diversity) the requested, at any society, claiming robust.

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