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German inland shipping falls 11.1 pct in 2018

Freight transport on Germany’s inland waterways fell by 11.1 percent in 2018, the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) announced.

According to Destatis, a total of 198 million tons of goods were transported via German inland waterways last year, a significant drop from 222.7 million tons in 2017.

The reason for the “massive decline” would have been the low water levels of Germany’s most important inland waterways during the second half of 2018, according to Destatis.

In the months from August to December 2018, transport volumes of German inland shipping fell by double-digit percentages compared to the same months of the previous year. The strongest decline was registered in November, with 34 percent less transported goods. In the first half of 2018, the volume of German inland shipping fell only slightly by 1.1 percent.

“Due to climate change, we expect that the water levels in the two most important rivers for shipping in Germany, the Rhine and the Danube, will very probably be low much more frequently in summer,” Fred Hattermann, climate expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), told Xinhua on Monday.

The reasons for this are earlier snow melting, changes in precipitation patterns and a longer vegetation period, “so that less water is stored as snow in winter and more water is consumed by the plants during the vegetation period,” Hattermann added.

In particular, companies along Germany’s largest river, the Rhine, suffered from the low water levels in Germany in 2018. The German chemical giant BASF, among others, had to reduce its production capacities at one of the world’s largest chemical plants in the city of Ludwigshafen in the second half of 2018.

The low water levels even led to temporary fuel scarcities at some petrol stations in Germany, as the ships transporting the fuel could not be fully loaded due to the low water levels.

The summer of 2018 became known as a so-called “century summer” in Germany as only the summer of 2003 was hotter and the summer of 1911 drier, according to
Germany’s National Meteorological Service (DWD).
Source: Xinhua

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