Tamas Matyasi at the Dunajská Streda terminal

Europe’s inland waterways are braced for chaos following flooding in southern Germany, which has already made its mark on the region’s rail freight sector causing a reported “70% failure rate”.

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.

Rail lines in the region have been badly affected, Deutsche Bahn warning that Munich is 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 warning that its rail services, particularly to and from Munich, had been hit.

And Die Güterbahnen, a group representing 100 private, regional and international companies that handle 60% of rail freight traffic in Germany, told The Loadstar the situation had been “difficult” for its members.

“Failure rates were up to 70% in the feedback we received,” said a spokesperson.

The route to and from Munich is reportedly a particular problem for several companies, with most services having to be rerouted via Passau-Wels-Salzburg-Rosenheim, or Basel and Italy.

The routes of Augsburg-Donauwörth, Munich-Ingolstadt and Nuremberg-Würzburg were mentioned asbeing  “particularly painful”, with ripple effects including combined transport and block trains.

Listen to this clip from the latest episode of The Loadstar Podcast to hear how DP World is using rail to cut its emissions via expansion of its Modal Shift Programme:

Meanwhile, along the Rhine, water levels have exceeded 8.25 metres – that 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 amount 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.