rotterdambarges © Mishkacz
© Mishkacz

Europe’s inland waterways are bracing for chaos following recent flooding in southern Germany, which has already made its mark on the region’s rail freight sector.

Persistent heavy rain in southern Germany has led to extreme flooding across the region, with five confirmed casualties, and forced the level of the River Danube to double from its usual level of around three metres to more than six metres.

And along the Rhine, levels have exceeded 8.25 metres – around the city of Worms at its highest level for more than a decade.

A source in the intermodal sector told The Loadstar: “Contargo reported that stoppages could be expected in the coming days, due to the high water levels at the Kaub gauge, and others face issues at Mainz.

“Blockages are already in force at a number of places on the Rhine – mainly around Mannheim and Frankfurt.”

Such has been the level of rainfall along the Rhine, that Mannheim and Maxau have been contending with blockages since the weekend, with expectations that the disruption will persist for a while.

The source noted one operator had 13 barges unable to reach their destinations, adding that other inland operators had reported they were facing similar situations.

“It is difficult to calculate the maximum water levels precisely and, consequently, to foresee the disruptions,” they added.

Rail lines have also been hit, with Deutsche Bahn warning that Munich was inaccessible to long-distance trains from Stuttgart, Würzburg and Nuremberg.

This has led to cancellations and delays on corresponding routes, including Munich to Berlin and between Stuttgart and Frankfurt, with HHLA-owned intermodal operator Metrans having warned that its rail services, particularly to and from Munich, had been hit.

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