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Ice thaw reopening some German waterway stretches for shipping

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 | 00:00
Warmer weather with ice thaw is reopening some stretches of Germany's river and canal systems, closed for shipping by Europe's nearly month-old cold wave, the country's official waterway information service Elwis reported.
A 152-km (94-mile) stretch of the Elbe River from port city Hamburg, near the Elbe's North Sea mouth, to Wittenberg, near Dresden in southeastern Germany, remains hindered by ice floes, but was sufficiently free for shipping to resume Monday morning, Elwis reported.
Also a few stretches of regional river-and-canal systems west of the Elbe have reopened to shipping. But east of the Elbe, past Berlin to eastern Germany's Oder-Neisse border to Poland, shipping remains largely off limits.
In the west, the German Rhine, which has stayed open to shipping throughout the cold wave, remains so. Smaller or larger stretches of some river-canal systems from the Rhine to the North Sea or in the direction of the Elbe have reopened for shipping, but most are still closed.
The Middle German Rhine's Mosel River barge link from Koblenz, Germany, to Trier and on to Luxembourg and France (Metz) has some remaining ice floe hindrances, but has reopened for barge traffic on a limited upstream basis, Elwis reports
To the south, the 388km Main River linking the Rhine at Mainz to the German Danube in Bavaria has reopened to shipping, but clearances for barge passage is still required at two lock stations on the Main.
Barge traffic from the Main's eastern end to the Danube via the 170-km Main-Danube Canal remains off limits due to ice. And the German Danube itself has kept shipping halted for over a week now from Kehlheim, its link station to the canal, all the way to Passau on the Austrian border.
Forecasts see a combination of freezing night- and above freezing daytime weather in Germany the next few days.
Customers unable to be served by barges or available local stockpiles due to the cold wave are having to rely on rail or road tanker service, German shipping agents say.
Source: Platts
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