In 2015, seaborne cargo throughput in the Port of Hamburg was 5.4 percent lower at 137.8 million tonnes. Bulk cargo throughput grew by 5.8 per cent of 45.5 million tonnes last year. At 8.8 million TEU (20-ft standard containers), container handling fell by 9.3 per cent compared to the previous year. Calls in Hamburg by ultra-large containerships (ULCS) increased by 27.6 percent to 647. 2015 saw an 142 per cent increase in the number of extra-large containerships with slot capacity of between 14,000 and 19,000 TEU to 150 vessels.
Germany’s Most Varied Industrial Zone
Frank Horch, Hamburg Minister of Economy, Transport, and Innovation, highlighted the port’s great significance for Hamburg, and warned against talking it down: “Anybody familiar with the port business will realise that the Port of Hamburg’s success cannot be measured solely in TEU. Its success is composed of many elements. What makes the Port of Hamburg strong is its character as a universal port. The Port of Hamburg is actually one of the largest and most varied industrial zones in Germany. Cargo handling, logistics and industry are closely interwoven and nurture each other. The port consists of the sum of these numerous and multi-facetted activities, something that cannot be described by throughput figures alone. I most urgently warn you against conjuring up crises. That harms our port and plays into the hands of our competitors. For us, economic fluctuations are nothing new – they are part of our business. Nobody disputes that we are confronted by great challenges. But, together, we shall master them!”
Increased Hinterland Traffic
The Port of Hamburg reports around 30 per cent local container cargo as well as growing seaport-hinterland container transport by rail (+2.8 per cent), and by inland waterway vessels (+27.5 per cent). As an industrial universal port, it performs an outstanding and indispensable function in supplying the local economy at its location and in the region, along with core markets inland.
Less Trade With Russia, China, and Poland
Downturn in seaborne container throughput is primarily attributable to lower volumes handled with China, Russia and Poland. In total, handling with these important trading partners fell by 800,000 containers (TEU).
“Among the ports of Northern Europe, the Port of Hamburg has maintained its strong position on container traffic with the Baltic region. Compared to ports such as Antwerp and Rotterdam, Hamburg reports an around seven percentage points higher proportion of transhipment cargo,” explained Axel Mattern, Member of the Port of Hamburg Marketing Executive Board. “This is one of the reasons that Hamburg is more seriously affected than Antwerp or Rotterdam by weakness in China’s foreign trade and Russia’s economic problems.” A large share of the cargo for China and Russia is transhipped via Hamburg, and loaded from oceangoing containerships onto feeders. Container traffic with China (-14.4 per cent) and with Russia (-34.4 per cent) could not be offset in volume by growth in container traffic with other countries such as Malaysia, India, the United Arab Emirates or Mexico.
The fall in seaborne container traffic with Polish ports has also been caused by direct calls by liner container services calling Gdansk direct without transhipment at one of the North Range ports.
Rail Takes Top Position in Modal SplitAt the joint Port of Hamburg press conference, Jens Meier, Chairman of HPA’s Executive Board, emphasized the excellent progress of the port’s hinterland services in 2015. With a 3.1 per cent growth to 45.8 million tonnes, rail achieved its best-ever result. “With a 45.3 per cent share of the Port of Hamburg’s modal split, rail displaced trucking, the previous leader, which with 42.7 million tonnes captured a 42.4 per cent share. That is unique in Europe and shows that environmentally friendly rail plays a leading role in seaport traffic,” said Ingo Egloff, Port of Hamburg Marketing Executive Board Member.
In 2015, container traffic by rail also set a fresh record, increasing by 2.8 per cent to 2.3 million TEU. More than 200 freight trains reach or leave the Port of Hamburg each day. With 1,100 container trains per week, Hamburg leads ports such as Rotterdam or Antwerp by a wide margin. Among ports in northern Europe, Hamburg’s share of containers transported by rail is around 50 per cent, while Rotterdam’s is about 19 per cent and Antwerp’s roughly eight per cent.
Growing Volumes on Inland Waterways
Transporting 130,000 TEU in 2015, inland waterway traffic also enjoyed a 27.5 per cent plus. In total, cargo volumes transported on inland waterways grew by 13.6 per cent to 12.4 million tonness. Hamburg thus displaced Cologne as Germany’s second largest inland port.
Renewed Growth in Bulk Cargo Throughput
Up by 9.2 per cent at 22.3 million tonnes, grab cargo dominated in the bulk cargo sector. It was massive imports of coal, 27.3 per cent higher at 7.7 million tons that ensured growth. Next to the steelworks of Northern and Eastern Germany, industrial plants and power stations were key customers. Growing by 12.4 per cent to 9.2 million tonnes, suction cargo also achieved notable growth. Grains exports, up by 28.8 per cent at 4.2 million tonnes, also contributed to the excellent annual result. Liquid cargo throughput fell by a 2.6 per cent to 14 million tonnes in 2015.
In 2015 throughput of non-containerized general cargoes, for example out-of-gauge plant elements and RoRo cargo, totalled 1.7 million tonnes, remaining 14.1 per cent below the previous year’s. Lower exports of iron and steel hit the export total.
Given the difficulty of assessing the likely development of foreign trade in the port’s core markets, it is hard to make a forecast for 2016. The Port of Hamburg’s marketing organisation therefore regards total throughput at the 2015 level as realistic. The Port of Hamburg employs more than 156,000 people in the Hamburg Metropolitan Region. With gross value added of 20.5 billion euro, it is also of immense importance for the entire German economy.
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