The Bremenports in Germany are constantly developing sustainable operations. The ports received an ESPO Award for their ecological efforts. Now, they have secured the role of host at the 2018 ‘BreakBuild Europe’ conference.
Bremenports GmbH & Co. KG is responsible for managing the commercial ports of Bremen and Bremerhaven. The private status company is working in public property, supporting the safe transportation of over 60 million tonnes of goods (2011).
The Bremenports originated in 13th Century medieval Germany, where a small harbour on the river Balge dealt with trade operations. The harbour was operational for about three centuries, but eventually it closed and relocated.
The Bremenports have made developments that are typical of industrial logistic modernisation. The ports now have container transport instead of mixed cargo and air transport instead of overseas passenger traffic. They can also accept sea vessels in increased size and capacity due to completed developments at the port terminals. In the late 1970’s, the older port of Bremerhaven built a line of container terminals to increase throughput in a practical, comprehensive way.
Today, the ports are able to provide an efficient service for transport containers, car-carrying trains, and large vessels. An expansion of the Imsumer Deich storage tracks at Bremerhaven will allow the current volume of train traffic to double, creating enough room for a total of 16 trains. The trains will primarily be used for the transport of containers.
The ports currently handle an average of 570 freight trains a week, but with the new railway lines in place, the number of weekly trains will increase to 770. The development is “making good progress and is on schedule”, according to MD Robert Howe.
Construction required around 4000 tonnes of steel sheet piling and approx. 3500 cubic metres of concrete instillation. Around 50,000 cubic metres of soil was excavated, in total, to accommodate the project.
In the last quarter of 2014, work on the new tracks began. In order to safely expand the network, obstructions were cleared, lines were laid and buildings were demolished.
A preliminary geotechnical investigation proved that the site was made up of soft layers of peat. Consequently, the construction area had to be divided into several sections and pre-loaded with large quantities of sand for several months before the work.
Once enough sand had been placed, preparations for the superstructure began, using hardwood thresholds in the turnout area. Rails were mounted on concrete slabs in the track area.
Dew drainage was ensured by the installation of a drainage mat, which led the water to a seepage pipe.
120 masts have been built for the electrical overhead line.
Mr. Howe said:
“The expansion of railway facilities in the Kaiserhafen area, which was completed two years ago, has led to a first increase in the capacity of the harbour railway and is already proving its worth.”
“The harbour will be home to a further ultra-modern eight-seater – rail infrastructure, which the location desperately needs if it wants to meet projected growth in the next decade.”
The new tracks will begin their operation on 10 December 2017. This will cause a change to the DB Netz AG transport timetable.
There is an endless project at the Bremerhaven site: the continual management of flood protection. Global warming will lead to a significant rise in the sea levels, and large sections of channels and dykes on the Bremerhaven coastline will be affected in the next few years. To combat this, the dyke near the port is being raised and substantially fortified. It will be widened by 8 metres between the crest and the foot, to a total of 42 metres. The cost (reaching a total of 3.7 million Euros) will be split between the federal government and the Federal Land of Bremen.
Work began in summer 2016, but was temporarily suspended for storm tide season.
The Ports of Bremen pursed their ecological objectives throughout 2015/2016. The company kept the environment in mind whilst modernising their fleet of 20 vessels. The surveying vessel Seeadler was fitted with a new modern engine to reduce fuel. Seeadler’s batteries store surplus energy means it can cover short distances at the port without generating any emissions.
Furthermore, the Bremenports fleet has started welcoming environmentally friendly barges, starting with the Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) hopper barge. The barge will be the first working vessel at a European port that is entirely powered with liquefied natural gas. It is currently being prepared for operation at a shipyard in the Netherlands.
Mr. Howe said:
“2016 was a busy and successful year of Bremenports. The work of our environment and landscape planning engineers enjoys an excellent international reputation.”
“There are simply not enough LNG-powered vessels yet. Nevertheless, Bremen and Bremerhaven are LNG-ready and if necessary, vessels can refuel from a truck at both ports without any problem.”
The managing director explained:
“A vessel’s emissions are assessed in accordance with the international Environmental Ship Index ESI. Last year, 45 particularly eco-friendly ships called at Bremen and Bremerhaven a total of 76 times and were granted an appropriate discount on the port charges.”
This initiative could incentivise the production of more ecologically sustainable vessels, and the ports are making a strong case to create a sustainable, green future. For this, they have received an ESPO Award in 2016, and were commended for their sensitivity to the environment.
In addition to ‘green’ achievements, the Bremenports have won intensive negotiations and have secured the role of host for the “BreakBulk Europe” conference, 2018. ‘Breakbulk’ is everything that cannot be transported in a container for its size, weight or quantity. Since breakbulk has particular, and potentially difficult, requirements, the breakbulk sector is highly specialised.
The Bremenports have an interest in breakbulk that is entirely supported by their ability to cater for it. The ports impressed businesses overseas, and have been praised for their “excellent breakbulk conditions” by the British company Breakbulk Events & Media. Sven Riekers, Head of Breakbulk Sales at the BLG Logistics said:
“The ports of Bremen naturally benefit from their role as two of the leading breakbulk ports in Europe. The decision to hold the fair here is a logical consequence of our activities.”
The fair has generated large crowds in recent years. In 2016, over 7600 attended the stands of roughly 350 exhibitors at the Breakbulk in Antwerp. The managing director is “expecting to see roughly the same number of exhibitors and visitors in Bremen in 2018”
This is the first time that the fair will be held in Bremen. Qualified experts in breakbulk will attend the conference.
The scope of development and maintenance has had a positive effect on jobs. The ports are significant local employers. This industry alone has employed 77,250 workers in Bremen and Hamburg. The total number of employers by Lower Saxony is 288,450 [figures correct as of 2015]. However, 112 employees are expected to retire across the Bremen port group by the end of the year. Management are currently in the recruitment and training process to replace the retiring workers.
The scope and ambition of projects at the ports has created a sustained culture of co-operation. According to Bremenports.de, ‘The distinctive division of labour between Bremen and Bremerhaven is the guarantee for success and as a characteristic feature of the twin ports’. As both harbours are tirelessly working on green energy, sustainable expansions, connectivity, and productivity, there is a real sense that they are both capable of maintaining a positive track record in to the future.