According to figures released by the German General Directorate for Waterways and Shipping, more than 16,000 vessels carrying a total cargo of nearly 50 million tons passed Kiel Canal in the first half of 2014. The number of transits decreased slightly while traffic on sections to and from ports along the Canal grew by twelve percent.
The newest statistics confirm Kiel Canal’s position as the world’s busiest artificial waterway. In total, 16,266 vessels passed the Canal either in transit or on sections between January and June 2014, corresponding to a 2.6 percent increase over the first six months of 2013. The total cargo volume amounted to 49,749,908 tons, up 2.1 percent over last year.
The transit traffic segment (i.e. ships passing Kiel Canal without calling one of its ports and without loading or discharging cargo) saw a slight 0.2 percent decrease of ships, although the amount of cargo grew by 1.8 percent. Cargo capacity utilisation on transiting ships has, accordingly, significantly improved over the first half of 2013.
In the section traffic segment, the number of ships increased by 12.1 percent and the total cargo volume grew by 7.3%. Approximately three out of the 50 million tons of cargo recorded in Kiel Canal during the first half of 2014 accounted of section traffic. Vessels passing Kiel Canal on sections mainly call the Canal docks of Kiel and Brunsbuettel as well as the docks of Rendsburg, including the new ‘Rendsburg Port’.
“Statistics for the first half of 2014 confirm Kiel Canal’s importance not only as a German waterway but as a lifeline between western Europe and the Baltic”, Jens Broder Knudsen – Chairman of Initiative Kiel-Canal e.V. – confirmed, “we are of course happy to see a better capacity utilisation onboard transit ships and a general growth of the section traffic”. Knudsen stressed the Canal’s much improved availability rate: “In the first half of 2013 we saw a one-week closure of the Big Locks at Brunsbuettel as well as brief industrial action of the lock operators. Fortunately no such events occurred between January and June this year”.
Jens B. Knudsen also said Initiative Kiel-Canal was clearly aware of the competition which the world’s busiest artificial waterway is facing: “Ships passing the Canal in transit can be deviated via the Skagerrak. Our ambition is to develop Kiel Canal in a way ensuring its competitiveness in the long run. The number of vessels transiting the Canal has been stagnating in the first half of 2014, and this is not the kind of result we aim to achieve. Our ambition is to bring the Canal back on a stable, lasting growth track”.
As far as political decisions are concerned, Jens Broder Knudsen called the first half of 2014 “a very good period” for Kiel Canal: “The financing of Brunsbuettel’s fifth lock chamber and the modification of the ‘Eastern Section’ have been brought in place. This is an essential milestone for the Canal’s future. We are now working to ensure the work is carried out as fast as possible, not at least in order to make a clear statement towards the Canal’s customers”.