Rhine in south Germany reopens to cargo transport, new closures threatening

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After the closure due to high water, cargo shipping on the Rhine in southern Germany restarted as water levels receded, allowing sailings to Switzerland to resume.

Container ships in Bingen Rhine (3 June 2024) / Shutterstock

Cargo shipping on the river Rhine in southern Germany resumed today following its closure due to high water levels over the weekend.

According to Reuters, the German inland waterways navigation agency stated that falling water levels, resulting from drier weather this week, have allowed shipping to recommence around Maxau in southern Germany, thus reopening sailings to Switzerland.

Heavy rainfall in southern Germany led to extensive flooding, prompting the closure of freight shipping at Maxau over the weekend. However, shipping operations on the northern sections of the river, including important points like Duisburg, Cologne, and Duesseldorf, continued unaffected throughout the week.

The closure was necessary because high water levels pose a risk for vessels passing under bridges, limiting their clearance.

The high water warning centre in the southern German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg cautioned that water levels at Maxau could sharply rise early next week, potentially leading to new closures.

The river Rhine serves as a vital shipping route for various commodities, including minerals, coal, oil products like heating oil, grains, and animal feed. Its navigation has been frequently disrupted in recent years due to low water levels caused by unusually dry summers.

Rhine in south Germany reopens to cargo transport, new closures threatening

Weißenthurm, Germany – flooded Rhine shore with flags / Shutterstock