Intermodal operator Contargo extends low-water surcharge table for key European hinterland artery.
Low water levels on key European hinterland artery the Rhine are exacerbating already challenging conditions for European intermodal barge transport companies and their customers and leading to further, higher surcharges.
Intermodal operator Contargo last week reported that according to forecasts from Germany’s ‘Electronic Waterway Information System’ (Elwis), the level of the Ruhrort gauge will fall below the 181 cm mark in the next few days.
“This will further reduce the load capacity of the barges. Unfortunately there is already a shortage of available inland vessel capacities and weather forecasts do not predict any substantial rainfall, so that the situation cannot be expected to improve in the short term,” the Rhenus-owned logistics subsidiary said.
It has informed customers that if the gauge level does fall below 181 centimetres, it would have to extend its low-water surcharge rates for Ruhrort to €125 per 20-foot container and €160 per 40-foot container. These rates apply for full containers transported by inland waterway between the seaports of Rotterdam or Antwerp and the Koblenz, Neuss and Duisburg terminals.
“We shall continue to make every effort to transport your containers punctually and in good time,” the intermodal operator said. “As an alternative, we can offer rail transport from our terminals in Duisburg and Neuss. However, these capacities are also limited.”
It added: “Due to the difficult situation, we must regretfully point out that adhesion to delivery dates can no longer be guaranteed in every case and that, according to our General Terms and Conditions, an obligation to transport on our part no longer applies when the level at the Duisburg-Ruhrort gauge falls below 181 cm.
The latest reading of the water level at Ruhrort, yesterday, August 28, showed an increase of eight centimetres on the previous day to 190 centimetres.
Also last week, Contargo warned that the level at the Kaub gauge will probably soon fall below the 61 cm mark, and if this did occur it would introduce a second tier of low water surcharges: € 320 per 20ft container and €425 per 40ft container.
Earlier this month, Contargo extended its low-water surcharge rates for Kaub when levels fell to 0.80 metres or below. The gauge currently stands at 73 centimetres (-1 cm compared to yesterday), a level at which surcharges are applied of €175 per 20-foot container and €225 per 40-foot container.
These are levied on full containers transported by inland waterway between Rotterdam or Antwerp and locations on the Rhine-Main above Koblenz.
Even before low water levels became an issue, the two ports had suffered chronic delays for barge traffic. Contargo estimates that current waiting times for its vessels in Antwerp and Rotterdam are 12-24 hours and 12-48 hours, respectively.