Recent reports that the automotive terminal at the Port of Bremerhaven is at bursting point have been challenged by port operator BLG Logistics.
“The situation is not as critical as it may sound,” said BLG spokesman Hartmut Schwerdtfeger.
He was responding to the news that 90,000 vehicles were clogging up Europe’s biggest car terminal, with extra space for storage being sought in areas of the port normally reserved for container activity. The parking area at Bremerhaven normally stores 70-80,000 vehicles.
Schwerdtfeger said that the current level of 90,000 was in excess of its usual number but was improving given that manufacturers had stopped production for several weeks. He confirmed that the excess amount was being handled by utilising 80,000m2 of space rented from BLG’s container business division but denied that freight trains were being used as temporary storage: “There are no block trains used as parking space for vehicles but it is a fact that block trains which are not under urgent need are unloaded a bit later before they are needed again.” He also confirmed that no vessels remained unloaded at the port.
New arrivals have ceased until the end of January 2009 while the port gradually ships vehicles out of the terminal to languid markets around the globe.
“We assume that the international automobile markets will start to recover in April next year and may return to normality by the end of 2009,” concluded Schwerdtfeger.
Bremerhaven is likely to see a drop in container traffic once the new deepwater container hub at the neighbouring Port of Wilhelmshaven opens in 2011. The port was approved $765m of public funding last week toward the new $1.2-billion hub. Wilhelmshaven will eventually expand to 1,700 meters with an annual capacity of around 3 million TEUs. The new terminal will be able to simultaneously handle four of the new generation of 12,000-14,000-TEU container ships.