Hamburg Port Railway: Infrastructure and Central Control Centre

The Port of Hamburg is very important for Germany’s economy. A good twelve percent of national rail freight traffic starts or ends in the port.


On any given working day, around 200 goods trains arrive at or depart from the port. Dry bulk, containers, chemicals and general cargo are all transported by train: block trains, for example, with up to 6,600 tonnes of iron ore for the steelworks in Salzgitter and Eisenhüttenstadt, or trains laden with potash from the Werratal region which are destined for the Kalikai quay of K+S AG.

In order to coordinate such volumes on the port railway network, a modern control tower, similar to the one at an airport, presides over the Alte Süderelbe seaport railway station. A modern control tower, similar to the one at an airport, presides over the Alte Süderelbe seaport railway station. From the central control centre 20 metres up, controllers and dispatchers have an excellent view over the expansive area with platforms of more than 700 metres in length. They see how the rail cars roll one-by-one over automated braking systems and are spread across different tracks. They come to an inch-perfect stop right where they have to, where they are then combined to form new groups or trains.


Straight on to the Terminal Track

Shuttle or block trains do not need to be shunted. When they arrive on time, they travel into one of the track sections located in front of the Altenwerder container rail terminal and then on to the terminal track. All according to plan; no additional work for the colleagues in the control centre. They work for the Hamburg port railway, which is a division of the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA). In shifts, they coordinate rail traffic in the port from their tower. The occupancy of each individual track (a total of around 300 kilometres) can be viewed on their screens.


Neutral Access to the System

The Hamburg port railway is thereby one of Germany’s largest railway infrastructure companies. It is responsible for availability and safety across the entire infrastructure, acting as a link between terminals or loading points and the European railway network. More than 110 different rail operators use the infrastructure.

It would, of course, be impossible to coordinate the up to 5,000 carriages every day without a high-performance IT system. To achieve this, the new transPORT rail (TPR) system has been developed. It enables all operators individual, neutral access to the operating systems for railway handling in the port, such as processing and reporting details about their train, containers and hazardous goods, for example.