DST – Entwicklungszentrum für Schiffstechnik und Transportsysteme e.V. - LOGO
Entwicklungszentrum für Schiffstechnik und Transportsysteme e.V.

Megahub NRW

Development of ship and IT concepts for a megahub at the lower rhine region

Due to the congestion of the Rhine estuary ports and the expected increase in container volumes there, inland container shipping is increasingly faced with the challenge of being able to handle container transports in a timely manner. Against this background, the question is examined whether and to what extent a bundling of volumes in a mega-hub on the Lower Rhine, the use of larger ship types and a modern IT concept can contribute to a solution of this problem.

For years now, the handling of inland container ships in seaports, especially in ARA ports, has resulted in considerable losses of time and thus efficiency losses for the inland vessels concerned, especially when small container volumes are handled at a high number of sea terminals.

Against this background, the concept of a megahub upstream of the seaports in the hinterland was developed by operators of inland waterway container services. Such a hub, which should preferably be set up at the Lower Rhine region, would collect the containers of the ships operating on the Rhine in dispatch (export); these would then be bundled and already sorted according to sea terminals and transported on to the seaports by large ship units yet to be designed. This would allow larger container volumes to be handled quickly and efficiently at each sea terminal. Conversely, whein receiving (importing), the containers would first be transported unsorted from the sea terminals to the megahub with large ship units and then transported onward with existing ships – sorted by hinterland destinations.

Types of ships studied for the megahub.

As part of this project, special operating concepts, large vessel concepts adapted to the infrastructure conditions of the Lower Rhine, and a suitable IT-based planning tool to support scheduling have been developed. The developed concept enables a higher capacity utilization of the inland vessels and a significant reduction of waiting and berthing times in the seaports. This will enable an increase in reliability and a considerable increase in efficiency in container hinterland traffic by inland shipping.

Primarily due to the ongoing market growth and the associated and worsening “congestion problem” in the seaports, it is expected that the efficiency gains to be expected from the concept will be able to compensate the additional costs caused by the mega hub, at least in the longer term.

Project duration:

  • March 2012 – June 2014

Funding framework:

  • EU-NRW Ziel-2 (EFRE) funding competition „Logistik.NRW“ – 2. Call


Point of contact:


Collaborative partners:

The Megahub NRW project was funded within the framework of the EU-NRW Ziel-2 (EFRE) funding competition “Logistik.NRW” – 2nd Call.

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    Development Centre for
    Ship Technology and Transport Systems

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    Tel.: +49 (0)203 - 99 36 9 - 0
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    E-Mail: dst@dst-org.de