PLANS are being drawn up to rebuild and modernise the 370 km rail network serving the German port of Hamburg.

DB Netz and Hamburg Port Authority expect to complete a detailed document by the end of the year which is likely to propose construction of a new bridge over part of the River Elbe and some other sections of new alignment.

Hamburg’s port railway is creaking under the strain of booming container traffic, with speed restrictions and partial closures imposed while repairs are undertaken, inevitably causing delays and disruption. Around one-third of all containers offloaded at Hamburg continue their journey by rail, with about 120 intermodal trains a day using the port network; a further 70 carry general cargo.

Initial estimates put the cost of rehabilitating the network at €100m, and Head of HPA Hans Peter Drucker told Die Welt at the end of July that HPA was considering approaching the federal government for help with funding.

In the meantime work is underway to complete a new €30m terminal for long-distance express freight trains at Alte Süderelbe by the end of 2006.