Port Rail

We’re on Track - Train by Train

A well-functioning port also requires an ideal connection to the hinterland. That's where our port rail comes in. With a rail track network of some 80 km, NPorts possesses the necessary railroad infrastructure in order to handle and transport any transshipment cargo efficiently and reliably. Coordinating and securing the rail operation is the responsibility of our Port Railroad Department on site. The crew comprises male and female railway operation managers, railway traffic controllers, dispatchers, construction foremen, track layers, and the security guards (so-called Sicherheitsposten or SiPos). These professionals work in our branches Brake, Cuxhaven, Emden, or Wilhelmshaven and they fulfill a plethora of tasks that keep the port railroad running.


Safety First

And, as with any port operation task, safety is always paramount. Once a month, the tracks are inspected, and up to twice a year, the switches are measured and compared to the setpoint values of the switch maps. Every four years, there is a statutory inspection of the track system by the State Railroad Oversight Agency.

In addition, maintenance work is performed on a regular basis. While maintenance and repairs in Cuxhaven and Wilhelmshaven are performed by external companies, at our sites in Brake and Emden this is the responsibility of our track building gang. They swap out worn-out tracks, railroad ties, or one of the 205 switches at NPorts. And, if required, they will also lay new tracks.

Such tasks must be well-planned out and organized ahead of time, since during that time, the tracks will be impassable. Accordingly, any maintenance work is performed after consulting with the terminals and cargo handling outfits, whenever possible, and chiefly during hours of little or no rail operation. In other words: During weekends and/or during night hours. This is no problem for our track building gang, they can work flexible hours and are always on site, when repairs or reconstructions are scheduled. 
The railway operation managers and railway traffic controllers ensure compliance with the Railway Terms of Use and monitor the rail operation. And here too, safety is paramount, so that accidents and derailments can be avoided. Train signals may be overlooked, or trains may come in too fast (there is a speed limit of 25 km/h in place; in Brake, at 5 km/h, it is even lower). In this context it is important to keep lane grooves and intersection sight triangles at rail crossings without gates free and clear.

Well-Organized Throughout

But what about the organization of a port railroad in general? After all, there are trains arriving from the hinterland, which is outside of NPorts’ control. This is where the so-called infrastructure utilization contracts with the railroad transport companies come into play that are managed at the Port Headquarters in Oldenburg. These contracts outline the general terms and conditions, as well as the framework for the utilization of our tracks. 
The railroad company with an existing contract announces their arrival and departure times of their trains via a dispatch system. Our dispatchers on site check and confirm the times and integrate them into the slot planning. They also use these data as a basis for the monthly billing to the railroad transport companies. 

The Port Railroad Department at NPorts proves that: Port rail happens as much outdoors as in the office. A lot of organizational work, time flexibility of our colleagues, and the constant monitoring of all the safety regulations make for a smooth process when it comes to our port railroad operation.