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HHLA to develop Hyperloop for container transport?

Container Terminal Altenwerder could in future host a hyperloop station for containers

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According to Hamburger Abendblatt, HHLA is negotiating with Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, an Elon Musk company, to develop a hyperloop very high speed, tube monorail system for container transportation.


HHLA would be the second port operator known to be interested in hyperloops. Earlier this year DP World signed a MoU with Virgin to develop a "Cargospeed" hyperloop for palletised goods.

A passenger hyperloop tube
A passenger hyperloop tube

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) is developing a passenger hyperloop aimed at cutting travel time for passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles to 36 minutes. The first passenger loop capsule is being built in Toulouse, France, in collaboration with Carbures SA.


Hyperloop is a high speed monorail with magnetic levitation, operating in a tube (just like mail in the 1950s). Inside the tube a vacuum exists, so trains move without air resistance or friction. Theoretically, speeds of up to 1200 km per hour can be reached.


“We are in negotiations, but have not yet reached an agreement,” a HHLA spokesman was quoted in Hamburger Abendblatt. The newspaper understands, however, that a letter of Intent has been signed and construction could commence within 2-3 years.


A new type of station is required to load the containers into the capsules, which will also have to be redesigned to carry heavy unit loads. The terminal would be built at HHLA’s CTA container terminal. According to HTT, up to 4100 containers a day could be delivered into the hinterland in minutes. The object is to replace truck transports, rather than intermodal rail services, suggesting inland stations within 300-350 kms of the port.

  • The Port of Hamburg handled 4.1M TEU in the first nine months of 2018, down 1.3% year-on-year. The fall is ascribed to a drop in empty container handling (down 10.1% to 830,000 TEU). On the hinterland distribution side, in Q1-Q3 2018 1.8M TEU were moved inland by rail, surpassing last year’s corresponding figure and breaking the previous record set in 2016. Hence the intermodal rail share of inland distribution increased from 42.5% to 44.9%.
  • Direct rail services between China and Hamburg not involving any sea transport also grew in 2018. Around 235 container train services are now offered weekly between Hamburg and 27 destinations in China, said Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing. “Hamburg as Germany’s top China centre functions as the New Silk Road’s point of arrival and departure. In addition to more than 110 liner services with worldwide seaports, the Hamburg logistics region offers optimal conditions for rail, truck and inland waterway distributor transport, and for clearing air freight.”
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