The Port of Hamburg and Metrans Group are intensifying their links with Lithuanian Railways. Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing, and Egidijus Lazauskas, Deputy Director-General and Director Freight Traffic for Lithuanian Railways, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Vilnius to strengthen cooperation on the routes to and from the Port of Hamburg. In addition, Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG – HHLA’s intermodal subsidiary Metrans, and Lithuanian Railways signed a Letter of Intent to promote and improve cross-border freight flows.
For years, the Lithuanian economy has been experiencing a tremendous upswing. In the first quarter of 2018, the Confidence Index maintained by the Lithuanian Statistics Office reached its highest level for ten years. With extremely full order books and capacity utilization already at a high level, Lithuania’s companies will be steeply increasing their investments in new machinery, plant and buildings. In addition, there are the subsidies from the European Union (EU). The Lithuanian Ministry of Finance sees these as doubling in 2018 on last year.
Seaborne freight transport between the Port of Hamburg and Lithuania set a fresh record last year, with around 128,000 standard containers setting a fresh record and producing a 7.8 percent upswing on the previous year. However, rail also plays a big part in freight services between Hamburg and Lithuania. The partners in the new cooperation attach special importance to implementation of the Rail Baltica and East-West Transport Corridor infrastructure development projects.
Rail Baltica is a rail link planned to run from Warsaw via Kaunas and Riga to Tallinn – with a ferry or tunnel connection to Helsinki. EU member states Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland are involved. Only in June this year, HHLA acquired the largest Estonian container/multi-functional terminal, Transiidikeskuse AS in Muuga, near Tallinn. Against this background, HHLA’s Metrans subsidiary is especially interested in the Rail Baltica rail corridor for boosting links between its new Baltic terminal in Estonia and the Metrans network. Rail Baltica will be built using the normal 1,435 mm gauge customary in Western Europe rather than the Russian broad gauge of 1,520 mm; it will extend at least 950 kms. “With its important role and its location on the new Rail Baltica, Lithuania offers tremendous potential for closer cooperation with the Port of Hamburg,” says Marina Basso Michael, Port of Hamburg Marketing’s Head of Market Development for the Baltic Region and Eastern Europe.
Lithuanian Railways transports freight along tracks with gauges of both 1,520 mm and 1,435 mm in various directions. Freight traffic is mainly with Byelorussia, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, Kazakhstan, China, Turkey, Germany, Scandinavia and Italy. The company runs modern intermodal terminals in Vilnius, Kaunas and Šeštokai, where it not only loads containers and semi-trailers, but also offers additional services such as issuing transport/Customs documents and container storage. “We are constantly pursuing new business opportunities abroad and Germany is one of our most important foreign markets. We see great potential there. We hope that cooperation with the Port of Hamburg and Metrans will open up fresh opportunities for the Lithuanian economy, which requires rapid, efficient and environment-friendly freight traffic through the East-West transport corridor,” said Egidijus Lazauskas of Lithuanian Railways.
In future the Port of Hamburg and Lithuanian Railways will exchange market-related data, promote inter-market deals with joint marketing activities, and cooperate in developing and implementing logistics projects. “Lithuania is a constantly growing partner in the Port of Hamburg’s hinterland. So a partner-like relationship is of great importance,” added Axel Mattern, Joint CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing.
HHLA’s wholly-owned subsidiary Metrans and Lithuanian Railways will be stepping up cooperation in future at operational level. Metrans Group owns and operates 14 transhipment terminals in the main regions of Europe. Joint intermodal projects will aim to boost the efficiency of rail freight services.
“Through this cooperation with Lithuanian Railways, we aim to further expand our European intermodal network and promote the link between Lithuanian handling facilities and our own. Especially in Eastern regions with broad-gauge networks, we see great potential still. Here the focus of our activities is on opening up new transport corridors and expansion of rail transport between China and Europe,” said Metrans CEO Peter Kiss when the Letter of Intent was signed in Vilnius.