The Hamburg Port Railway was opened in August 1866 by the Berlin-Hamburg Railway Company and connected the Sandtorkai with the Berlin railway station. Plenty has changed since then. Jens Meier, CEO of Hamburg Port Authority said: “In the past 150 years on which the Hamburg Port Railway now looks back, it has changed from a simple railway siding at Sandtorkai to a complex system of marshalling yards, which are top in Europe today. Hamburg is the biggest railway port and we are proud of that.” Over 200 freight trains with over 5,000 rail cars travel along 300 kilometres of tracks of which 110 kilometres are electric. More than 80 points in the Port of Hamburg are connected to the port railway.
100 railway companies use port railway
Since the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA) was founded in 2005, the port railway has become an important company sector with over 170 employees at present. In November 2012, the port railway welcomed “Freightliner” – the hundredth railway company in the Port of Hamburg. Meanwhile, over 120 railway companies use the infrastructure there. Harald Kreft, Manager of the Port Railway, said: “We continually strive to extend our position as a catalyst of innovation. It is important to look outside the box as the port railway is the link between the handling terminal for container ships and the European rail network.” In the past years, the port railway has seen plenty of annual growth. The amount of freight transported by the railway in the Port of Hamburg increased 3.9 per cent to 23.8 million tons in the first half of 2016 over the same period last year, the HPA said in August. The number of containers grew 2.1 per cent to 1.2 million in that period as well. In 2015, the port railway transported 45.8 tons of goods – an increase of 3.1 over the previous year.
smartPORT, transPORT rail and smartSWITCH
The port railway plays a key role in the development of the smartPORT. The idea of an intelligent port is illustrated by transPORT rail in which communication is largely automated allowing for more efficient railway traffic. That includes the smart SWITCH pilot project under which a multi-sensor measuring machine gauges data. This allows forecasts about abrasion and stiff loads can be recognised and reported early.
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