EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW. Continuing Growth of the Central German Logistics Hub of Saxony-Anhalt


As a logistics hub and the ‘gateway to the east’, the Central German federal state of Saxony-Anhalt wants to shape the multimodal transport movements in the hinterland of the ports of Germany on a sustainable basis. The Hafenhinterland Conference, which takes place in Saxony-Anhalt on 6–7 September 2018, is set to address this topic with the title of ‘Multimodal Logistics Hub Saxony-Anhalt’.
In an interview, Thomas WEBEL, Minister for Regional Development and Transport in Saxony-Anhalt, discusses the strengths and the potential of the region, as well as the challenges for the future.

Thomas Webel has been the Minister of Regional Development and Transport for the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt since 2011. Before the fall of the Berlin wall, he studied electronic equipment engineering at Dresden Technical University, graduating with a diploma in engineering. In 1990, he was elected as a member of the state parliament of Saxony-Anhalt. Before he was appointed as the Minister, Thomas Webel was a District Administrator for the District of Wolmirstedt, the District of Ohre and most recently, the District of Börde.

Minister Webel, what are the key topics of the Hafenhinterland Conference 2018 in Saxony-Anhalt?
The focus of the conference will be on linking the different transport modes, their strengths and their potential. It will address the future ideas for fulfilling the requirements of the logistics region of Saxony-Anhalt with regards to multimodal transport by rail and road, as well as by sea and by air. Discussions will focus on the links of our federal state with the New Silk Road and the associated challenges, as well as Saxony-Anhalt’s central location in the European Union and also ideas for the future within Germany itself. In addition to that, we will tackle the topics of decarbonisation and digitalisation of freight transport, not to mention multimodality.

What factors make Saxony-Anhalt a logistics hub?
First of all, its transport infrastructure: the federal state is exceptionally well-connected, with more than 11,000 kilometres of roads, approximately 3,100 kilometres of railway lines, seven rail hubs, the second biggest cargo airport in Germany at Halle/Leipzig, the central train formation facility in Halle, almost 600 kilometres of navigable, modern inland waterways, as well as 18 ports and freight terminals. In recent years, this infrastructure has been systematically renewed, expanded and upgraded. Since 2000 the transport volume has more than doubled in the area of rail freight transport alone, and currently stands at 30.4 million tonnes. In particular, we have invested a lot of money in the upgrading and construction of three railway junctions to make rail transport more attractive to customers and make things run more smoothly at the heavily used nods.

What is the role of shipping?
Saxony-Anhalt occupies a key position within the process of European integration. Three of the six corridors of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) that run through Germany pass through our federal state: the North-Baltic Sea, the Scandinavia-Mediterranean, and the Orient-Eastern Mediterranean. These corridors form a part of the core network of the multimodal transport project TEN-V, which aims to improve cross-border transport within the EU. In 2017, some 21.9 million tonnes of goods were handled by inland shipping traffic in the Elbe area alone.

Is it true, however, that the key focus of freight transport remains on road transport?
That’s right. All of the motorway routes in Saxony-Anhalt are either new or have been completely renovated after 1990 to make our bridge structures (in contrast to those in many regions of Germany) also suitable for heavy goods transport. In addition to that, there’s also the comparatively low number of traffic jams in our federal state. Two motorways connect the key east-west and north-south destinations, such as the Ruhr region, with links to Western Europe, as well as Eastern and Southern Europe. The Czech Republic and southern Poland are also easily accessible thanks to an extended route. All in all, businesses in our federal state benefit from the optimum conditions for efficient logistics management.

Freight traffic is set to increase worldwide. Is Saxony-Anhalt equipped for this development?
Yes, Saxony-Anhalt is exceptionally well-prepared for it. With an average annual turnover of three billion Euros in recent years, the logistics industry in our federal state has established on a consistently high level. According to the Maritime Transport Forecast for 2030, over the next ten years or so, the total turnover of the North and Baltic Sea ports is set to increase by 2.8 per cent and reach 468 million tonnes. According to the German Association of Maritime Ports, however, the port hinterland traffic is already reaching its capacity limits. That’s why locations such as Hamburg rely strongly on transport-spanning logistics chains to transport the growing intercontinental flows of goods to the European hinterland. This is an area in which Saxony-Anhalt has made consistent efforts to create a high performing basis in the years since 1990: the key ports on the Mittellandkanal and the river Elbe now offer favourable trimodal connections for the transportation of heavy cargoes and bulk goods. Our transport routes offer sufficiently-developed facilities so as to cushion the capacity deficiencies at the German maritime ports. Transporting the huge volumes of goods from these ports remains a major challenge, however. To this end, our federal state – also in cooperation with other federal states – is currently developing the necessary solutions.

What kind of solutions are these?
By 2030, our federal state is planning to invest another two billion Euros in its transport infrastructure together with the German federal government. We attribute particular importance to supporting environmentally-friendly modes of transport. Our objective is to move an increased transport volume onto our railways and waterways. A major step has already been taken with the construction of the train formation facility in Halle, the only of its kind in Eastern Germany and the most modern in Europe. Up to 2,400 railway wagons will be dispatched there on a daily basis, setting off for South Eastern Europe or even as far afield as China. In addition, we want to bring more cargo onto the river Elbe. The ‘Elbe 4.0’ study has demonstrated how inland shipping transport can be strengthened with the digitalisation of the Elbe corridor. Smaller projects are also promising, however – for example the ‘Watertruck plus’ project. On this basis, a Belgian team has developed a smart concept for small motorised or non-motorised barges which is particularly suitable for transporting goods on smaller-scale waterways. In short, the traffic finds its own way. And above all else, Saxony-Anhalt wants to ensure that this traffic travels more frequently by rail or water!

Thank you for the conversation.

Prepared by JŪRA MOPE SEA


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The magazine JŪRA has been published since 1935.
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published since 1999.

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