Sunday, October 4, 2009

More Misery For Rhine Shippers As Drought Continues

Barge Traffic Severely Hampered by Low Water Levels
Shipping News Feature

SWITZERLAND – The cost of shipping materials by barge on the river Rhine have risen with no reprieve in sight after water levels fell to less than 5 metres at Basle yesterday continuing the drought which has afflicted water borne cargoes for the past few weeks.

With no forecast of major rains, the four ports served by Basle can expect to receive only a quarter to a third of normal tonnages carried by individual barges, any more and they are apt to ground in the shallow waters.

The Rhine is a major thoroughfare for traffic right down as far as Rotterdam and levels right through the river system, including the German section, are perilously low. The barge clearances are reported by the German Ministry of Transport as only 60 centimetres and likely to fall below 53 centimetres today at Kaub, only 40 miles from Frankfurt am Main.

Freight rate increases exceeding 20% between Rotterdam and Duisburg and these may well rise further. Passenger barges have had to be abandoned on some stretches of the river and buses substituted.

Pic; Norbert Aepli, Switzerland