Doubling of the Moselle locks between Koblenz and Trier

DOUBLING OF THE MOSELLE LOCKS

Construction of second lock chambers on the Moselle between Coblence and Trier

The Moselle is considered Germany’s most important inland waterway after the Rhine. Its capacity has long been exhausted far beyond its limits. 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 their trouble-free operation over the long term.

The goods volume of 10 million tonnes per year originally predicted in the 1960s was already exceeded in 1987 with the opening of the Saar as a large-vessel waterway. According to forecasts, the current volume of goods traffic will continue to increase. Container traffic has also grown considerably over the past few years. Passenger vessels and cabin vessels play an important role on the Moselle: over 2,000 passenger ships pass through Zeltingen lock each year.

A structural change towards ever larger vessels can be observed in the inland waterway sector. Between 1992 and 1999 the navigation channel between Coblence and Richemont was deepened from 2.70 to 3.00 metres to increase the capacity of the waterway for more heavily laden ships. The limits of this measure have long been exhausted, though.

A growing number of motor barges is registered with 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.

All 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 Coblence carry out this work along the entire stretch of the German Moselle during an annual ten-day lock closure, during which 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. Second lock chambers allow such work to be carried out at any time without interrupting traffic, with less manpower and at lower costs.

At three of the ten sites in Germany, the second lock chambers are already in operation – at Fankel, at Zeltingen and at Trier. Construction of the second chamber of Lehmen lock is under way and after that, the doubling of Wintrich lock is scheduled to follow. With time, it is planned to add a second chamber at each site. Once these are completed, annual lock closures might no longer be necessary.

Doubling the Moselle locks between Trier and Coblence 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.

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Source: WSA Trier

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