When river ports offer their own rail services : The german river ports and their rail freight subsidiaries

German river ports present a unique showcase of intermodal transport management in Europe. Of the 70 public ports, 50 have been operating their own rail subsidiary, for more than a century. Until the rail liberalization act had been adopted in the mid 1990?s, their activities remained restricted to the port areas where they in return enjoyed a monopoly. As open access was introduced in 1994 for the federal rail network and completed ten years later for the rail infrastructures in ports, the perspective radically changed for the rail subsidiaries that had to adapt to the new economic and institutional environment. The challenge presented at the same time a threat but also new developmental opportunities in regional and in very few cases national traffics. In fact, the change occurred rather slowly and was far to be generally implemented. Beyond notorious cases like the port in Cologne with the HGK, in Duisburg with the DuisportRail or in Neuss with the Neusser Eisenbahn which had real rail ambitions, other ports also went through real but less perceptible changes towards a more integrated logistic offer, often in cooperation with major rail actors. The present paper aims to better understand the rail firms operated by river ports in Germany and their commercial position. Firstly, it will outline the group of firms considered. It will then replace their recent evolution within the liberalized market in Germany. A further step will try to evaluate the complementarities between port activities and rail services as they are proposed. Finally, a classification will be drawn based on services, territorial characteristics and development strategies. Several groups have been distinguished from the rare ports without any rail connection, to those which only dispose of railway infrastructure, the ports with rail subsidiary restricted to more or less various port services, the regional rail operators and ( at least for the new entrant profiles) the actors offering a full range of rail offers, from local to long haul offer, vehicle maintenance and logistic services. The approach will be detailed and illustrated by several case studies that underline the great diversity of each singular situation.


  • French

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Pagination: 19p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01497658
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Institut Francais des Sciences et Technologies des Transports, de l'Aménagement et des Réseaux (IFSTTAR)
  • Files: ITRD
  • Created Date: Nov 7 2013 11:48AM