Concise history of HHLA Container Terminal Burchardkai

Burchardkai is named after Johann Heinrich Burchard (born 26 July 1852 in Bremen; died 6 September 1912 in Hamburg). The lawyer was elected to the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg in 1885 and was Mayor of Hamburg for several periods of office between 1903 and 1912.

Under the initiative of Economic Senator Helmuth Kern, the Senate of Hamburg decides to develop Burchardkai into a container terminal. Handling of combined container and bulk cargo begins.


The first container gantry crane is erected and the first containers are handled, most of them still arriving as deck cargo on board bulk cargo ships. Two ships per week are handled initially, with a capacity of between 780 and 1,000 standard containers (TEU).


The first fully containerised ship, the American Lancer of the United States Lines shipping company, is handled in Hamburg. By autumn, four to five fully containerised ships dock at Burchardkai every week. The Dolphin container train becomes the first direct train to arrive at a container terminal.


Construction of the first packing facilities, where containers are packed and unloaded.

Starting in 1970

The first specialised straddle carrier for transporting and stacking containers goes into service. It was developed in partnership with Peiner AG. The “Peiners” are called straddle carriers today.


The first fully containerised ships operating a weekly service to and from Asia are handled. Six container gantry cranes at six berths are available for this.


The CLOU interactive dialogue system, which enables better management of the containers, is introduced at Burchardkai. Electronic data-processing gradually takes control of processes and, at a later stage, of large-scale equipment, too.



The straddle carrier fleet is integrated into Burchardkai’s IT system via mobile data communication (narrowband system). Each driver cabin gets a box with a keyboard and monitor.

World premiere in container positioning: a satellite GPS is introduced and supplemented with the LADAR tracking system. HHLA further improves the precision of the Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) by enhancing individual components. The system makes it possible to determine precisely where the containers are stored. An automated data system assigns driving jobs for the steel boxes to the straddle carrier drivers.


The completed dredging of the river Elbe allows larger container ships, which had a maximum capacity of 8,000 TEU at the time, to enter the Port of Hamburg without any problems. This marks the beginning of a lengthy boom period with double-digit growth rates in container traffic.


road tunnel under the tracks of the port railway in Waltershof is inaugurated. Queues of trucks at closed level crossing gates become a thing of the past.


HHLA decides to expand the CTB to a capacity of 5.2 million TEU.


iesel-electric-powered straddle carriers go into service, reducing fuel consumption by 20 to 30 percent.



The new rail terminal commences operations. It allows block trains of up to 740 metres to be handled. This marks the first milestone in the long-term expansion programme, the key challenge of which is to complete an expansion project while regular operations continue.

Introduction of an OCR system for incoming trucks. OCR (optical character recognition) allows container numbers and truck number plates to be read in automatically using images.


Berths 3 and 4 for large ships commence operations. They get state-of-the-art tandem container gantry cranes which can handle two 40-foot or four 20-foot containers simultaneously. These container gantry cranes are the biggest and most efficient of their kind in Europe at the time.


The first automatic storage block at the CTB goes into service. This increases the carrying capacity of standard containers and, as a result, of dangerous goods and reefer containers.


HHLA launches the “Fuhre 2.0” project to improve the port’s truck (Fuhre) handling system by enhancing the networking of IT data and using it more efficiently. First stage: Truck drivers use new self-service terminals.


On 1 January 2013, Hamburg loses its status under customs law as a free port. The CTB gets its own customs station at the terminal.


More and more automatic storage blocks commence operations. The new berths 5 and 6 are completed and equipped with tandem container gantry cranes. The quayside is therefore able to handle container ships with a carrying capacity of 20,000 TEU and more.


A new storage facility for tank containers with dangerous materials goes into service.


New automatic storage blocks and tandem container gantry crances commence operations.


Introduction of the slot-booking process for truck drivers which is designed to avoid bottlenecks at the Port of Hamburg and to relieve traffic.


Expansion ot the container rail terminal at Burchardkai. Two tracks and two new rail cranes have been added. All now ten tracks are able to handle trains with a length of 740m.





Five new container gantry cranes start operating at CTB. HHLA therefor provides an additional mega-ship berth able to handle container vessels with a capacity up to 24.000 TEU.