Germany’s biggest sea port handled 135.1 Mt of seaborne cargo in 2018, down 1% on 2017. There was a small downturn in bulk cargo throughput, while loaded container numbers were steady
As the accompanying table from Hamburg Port Marketing (HMM) shows, the port handled a total of 8.7M TEU in 2018. Eurogate has reported that it handled 1.65M TEU at its Container Terminal Hamburg in 2018 (down 3%), so HHLA handled a total of 7.05M TEU at its three Hamburg terminals. As a group HHLA handled 7.3M TEU in 2018 (Hamburg plus CTO Odessa and, with effect from H2 2018, MCT Tallinn).
Hamburg’s railborne seaport-hinterland transport increased by 2.7% last year to 46.8 Mt, while in unit terms the number of containers shipped by rail to/from the port increased by 4.7% to 2.44M TEU. More than 60,000 cargo trains with around 1.6 million freight cars were handled during 2018 on the port railway network alone. This topped the record total set in 2016 and extended Hamburg’s position as Europe’s leading rail port.
Speaking at the port’s annual results conference, Jens Meier, CEO of Hamburg Port Authority (HPA), said that 2019 was off to a "flying start," with four new weekly transatlantic liner services that could result in an additional 0.5M TEU of container throughput this year
One in three of all containers handled in the port last year were for, or from, China, totalling around 4.8M TEU, reinforcing Hamburg’s position as Europe’s main hub for China freight by a wide margin, said Alex Mattern, Joint CEO of HHM. He noted that along with the ocean-going vessel as the main carrier, a distinct increase is occurring in transport to/from China by rail.
Hamburg is the central freight handling hub for transport along both the maritime and overland Silk Road," said Mattern. "We shall be further strengthening and expanding our location in terms of transport geography for the benefit of our worldwide port customers.”
He sees tremendous growth potential in linking the countries of the Baltic region with the Silk Road. "No centre anywhere else in Europe offers this variety of direct sea and rail services with China. The short distances between the sea and hinterland services by all carriers make Hamburg especially attractive as a hub for China trade.
“A network of around 2,000 container train connections, excellent motorway infrastructure, possibilities for transport by truck and barge, as well as an airport with an air freight centre justify Hamburg’s claims as a leading logistics hub."
Michael Westhagemann, Hamburg’s Minister of Economics & Transport, stated that work on upgrading the Elbe fairway has already started. “We will implement the project as swiftly as possible and hope that no delays will arise. On 9 March I shall be travelling to Asia to brief our port customers and to showcase the location."
Ingo Egloff, HMM Joint CEO, said: “Adjustment of the fairway will simplify calls in Hamburg for shipping lines and will permit handling of larger volumes. Extra draft and an improved situation for passing on the Elbe will facilitate better use of transport capacity on their ships.”
Once the Elbe has been deepened, large containerships and bulk carriers will be able to bring around 18,000 tons more cargo to Hamburg, likewise being able to sail with increased quantities. The port already caters for ships with more than 21,000 TEU nominal intake. "We are raring to go with carrying out all necessary preparations, so that even 23,000-TEU vessels can make it safely into the Port of Hamburg," said Meier.