Doubling of the Moselle locks between Koblenz and Trier

The capacity limit of the Moselle has long been exceeded. The Moselle has to deal with an increasing volume of goods, transported on ever larger vessels. The only way to manage the larger volume of goods traffic and the changed fleet structure is to double the Moselle locks at each site. Doubling the locks is also the only solution to guarantee trouble-free operation of the locks over the long term: the existing lock chambers are over 50 years old and have been in continuous operation since they were built. If one of the lock chambers is closed for repair and maintenance work, through traffic comes to a standstill along the entire waterway.


The River Moselle is considered Germany’s most important inland waterway after the Rhine. Its capacity has long been exhausted far beyond its limits. The goods volume of 10 million tonnes per year originally planned in the 1960s was already exceeded in 1987 with the opening of the River Saar as a large-vessel waterway. From 1992 - 1999, as a measure to increase the capacity of the waterway for ever larger and more heavily laden ships, the navigation channel between Koblenz and Richemont was deepened from 2.70 to 3.00 metres. The limits of this measure have long been exhausted. The current volume of goods traffic of around 14 million tonnes is likely to further increase. Since March 2014, a container line has operated between the French Moselle harbours and the ports at the mouth of the Rhine. This has led to a further significant increase in container traffic. Passenger vessels and cabin vessels also play an important role on the Moselle, and over 5,000 passenger ships pass through the lock at Zeltingen each year.


A structural change towards ever larger vessels can also be observed in the inland waterway sector, with an increasing number of motor barges today having a length of up to 135 m with beams of up to 11.40 m. For occupancy of the lock chambers this is a disadvantage, because only one ship at a time can pass through the lock. This trend is reflected in the dimensions of the 2nd lock chambers, which have an effective length of 210 m and a width of 12.50 m.


The existing lock chambers are over 50 years old and have been in continuous operation since they were built. Increasing damage from wear and a higher maintenance requirement make more extensive and longer repairs necessary. Currently, the Waterways and Shipping Authorities in Trier and Koblenz carry out this work along the entire stretch of the German Moselle during an annual eight-day lock closure. During this time, traffic comes to a standstill. Unscheduled maintenance work that necessitates the closure of a lock inevitably leads to a complete stoppage of through traffic along the entire Moselle waterway. A second lock chamber allows such work to be carried out at all times without interrupting traffic, and with less manpower and lower costs. At two of the ten Moselle locks in Germany, the second lock chamber is already in operation – in Fankel and Zeltingen. The second lock chamber in Trier is under construction and scheduled for completion in 2018. With time, it is planned to build a second lock chamber at each of the ten locks. Once these are completed, the annual lock closure will no longer be necessary.


Doubling the Moselle locks between Trier and Koblenz will sustainably increase their efficiency. It will also further bolster the attractiveness of the waterway as an ecological and economically viable transport route, as well as the entire economic area in the SaarLorLux border triangle.

Waiting ships at the Trier lock
2nd lock chamber at Zeltingen
2nd lock chamber at Zeltingen


Source: WSA Trier

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