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Port of Hamburg sees declined container traffic in 2023

In 2023, the terminals in the Port of Hamburg handled a total of 114.3 million tonnes of goods with seaborne cargo throughput 4.7% below the level of the previous year. At the same time, container throughput amounted to 7.7 million TEUs, decreasing by 6.9%.

Despite the overall decline in cargo throughput, hinterland traffic to and from the German port remained relatively resilient in 2023. Recording a volume of 5.1 million TEUs, the hinterland traffic decrease of the port from the previous year was moderate at 4.7%. However, transshipment traffic experienced a more notable decline, totalling 2.6 million TEUs, representing a decrease of 10.9% compared to the previous year.

Despite facing operational challenges such as strikes and adverse weather conditions, rail transport facilitated the movement of 45.6 million tonnes of goods and products through Europe’s largest railway port, marking a decrease of 3.6%. Rail transport held the largest modal share at 53.5%, followed by truck transport at 38.1%, and barge transport at 8.4%.

This trend is also reflected in container cargo transportation, with 2.5 million TEUs transported to or from the hinterland of the Port of Hamburg by rail in the previous year, marking a 6.4% decline. Rail transport accounted for nearly half (49.7%) of all containers in hinterland traffic, while road transport accounted for 47.9%, and inland waterways accounted for 2.4%.

"When we look at the development of our throughput figures, we are on the same level as our Northern European competitors and are holding our well compared to other ports. The decline is primarily due to the difficult geopolitical and economic situation that we all are facing," explained Axel Mattern, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing.

The Port of Hamburg continued to witness positive developments in its trade with the United States. Total container throughput with the country reached 653,000 TEU in 2023, marking an 8% increase from 2022 and solidifying the US as the port's second-strongest trading partner. Additionally, trade with India demonstrated positive growth, with 191,000 TEUs handled in direct traffic alone, representing a 5.6% increase in container volume compared to the previous year. As a result, India ascended to become the Port of Hamburg’s eighth most significant trading partner. China maintained its position at the top of the list, handling 2.2 million TEUs in 2023.

In 2023, there was an increase in the number of container vessels belonging to the "Megamax" class, which comprises vessels with capacities of 18,000 TEU and above, visiting the Port of Hamburg. This upward trend towards larger container ships continued, with the number reaching 272 vessels, reflecting a 14.8% rise compared to previous years.

"We are pleased that the number of large container ships calling at Hamburg has increased in the past year. The fact that so many of the world’s largest container ships call at the Port of Hamburg clearly demonstrates the port’s capability and reliability. At the same time, it underlines the need to keep optimising the infrastructure for these vessels and to ensure the effective maintenance of the Elbe federal waterway," commented Friedrich Stuhrmann, CCO at the Hamburg Port Authority (HPA).

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