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Hamburg's bridge of sighs

Ongoing problems with the Kohlbrand Bridge are encouraging a switch to water for internal port container moves

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Hamburg's bridge of sighs

While the city and port of Hamburg weigh the options of replacing the aging Kohlbrand Bridge with a new bridge or a more expensive but longer-lasting tunnel, the situation on the ground (or rather, in the air) is getting steadily worse.


The Köhlbrandbrücke, built in 1974, connects the city and the eastern part of the port of Hamburg with the container terminals. It is a source of congestion and increases mobility costs. Its air draft also restricts the size of vessel that can call at CTA Altenwerder.


At the start of this year the city introduced a new regulation. Trucks driving on the 520m long centre part of the bridge have to keep a distance of 50m to the truck in front. This applies to all vehicles above 3.5 tonnes GVW. Hamburg Port Authority has applied road markings to help drivers keep the distance.

More "container taxis" will be deployed this year
More "container taxis" will be deployed this year

The restriction is "temporary" and will be removed when strengthening work has been completed, but the bridge was extensively renovated less than three years ago. Today some 38,000 vehicles use the Köhlbrandbrücke daily, far more than originally calculated.


Partly as a result of the road access problems, more carriers and logistic companies are turning to Carl Robert Eckelmann Transport & Logistik’s container "taxi" service to move containers around. Michael Beyer, who will shortly be appointed the company’s managing director, stated that volumes transported almost doubled last year, even though container traffic growth in the port is minimal. The 24/7 services, operated with six barges, are mostly fully booked.


High growth rates are expected this year and Eckelmann is investing in more barges, although has not disclosed the number.


Each container taxi has an intake of 80 TEU, with a push barge length of 80m and a beam of 11m.

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