© Norbert Aepli (CC BY 2.5)

Amid the water-shortage & energy crisis

The Rhine, a macro-region under stress

by Port News Editorial Staff

Stifled by temporary disruptions to  shipping along  the Rhine River, whose water-level has alarmingly dropped to an all-time low as a result of the heatwave across Europe, and under strain due to the soaring demand for fuels like coal, which has become increasingly strategic, due to Russia’s decision to cut gas supplies.

There is no peace for the logistics chain and the European, especially German, rail network. Due to current congestion levels at inland terminals in the macro-region through which one of Europe’s longest rivers flows, one of the region’s major intermodal operators, Contargo,  has announced additional barge surcharges which will mean around 150% more.

The company operates 25 container terminals located along the main waterways of Germany, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. Its network is  able to reach the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp and Amsterdam, as well as  the German North Sea ports.

As of Sept. 1st,emergency surcharges, levied since March 21st, 2022 to address high petrol prices, will be increased from 10 to 25 euros per full and empty container transported, the company announced in a press note. The surcharge will continue to be applied to all transport combinations, barge-to-rail or barge-to-truck.

Contargo has announced that it will also continue to charge a special handling surcharge of 3 euros (from free inbound truck to free on barge, rail, truck, and vice versa) for all containers that are handled at terminals without transportation (Barge, Rail, or Truck) being carried out by its network.

“As well as the massive problems in the seaports (late arrivals of vessels, restrictions in acceptance of containers etc.), substantial bottlenecks continue to affect our services in the rail network and inland navigation.” the company says.

“In rail transport, construction sites and closures are still causing train cancellations and overbooking,  which we are trying to compensate by creating additional capacity,” Contargo adds, noting that “Barge transport is still suffering  from a shortage of cargo space. Container barge transport is having to compete with coal and grain transport for the short capacities. The continuing very low water levels on the Rhine and its tributaries are increasing the demand for additional tonnage and driving prices up to critical levels.” “Since we want to continue to offer our customers the best possible, economically solid services, we have  to adapt our prices.”

Translation by Giles Foster

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