Der Rhein bei Basel. Foto/Photo: TES

The corridor Rotterdam-Basel-Genua and the Swiss Rhine Ports

The first large Rhine ship arrived in Basel in 1904. The Rhine port of St. Johann was expanded in 1906. A second Basel Rhine port was built in Kleinhüningen between 1919 and 1942.

The ports of Au and Birsfelden (Canton Basel-Landschaft) were built between 1937 and 1940. In 2008, the ports of both cantons merged to form the Swiss Rhine Ports (Schweizerischen Rheinhäfen, SRH). They are the gateway to the world’s oceans via the Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Antwerp seaports.

The Upper Rhine began below Basel and was originally divided into numerous side arms. The river was forced into a single bed with the regulation of the Upper Rhine from 1817 to 1876.

From 1928 to 1959, the ‘Grand Canal d’Alsace’ was built between Kembs and Breisach. Since then, practically all the water of the Rhine has flowed into this 53 km long canal. 12 power plants dam the Rhine between Rheinfelden and Karlsruhe. This has increased the river’s water depth and made the Rhine navigable all year round.

The Birsfelden lock has an important function. The annual number of locks is over 10,000, including 6505 large ships. When ships with a length of 110 m and a width of almost 12 m reach Rheinfelden today, this cannot be taken for granted. Large-scale shipping on the Rhine was only made possible by the lock and the expansion into a waterway.

The SRH asserts itself in the regional, national and international environment. Today, the SRH form the national transport hub on the Rotterdam-Basel-Genoa freight corridor. The SRH provides the infrastructure for transhipment activities and ensures that the port remains attractive as a logistics location.

The three port sections of Basel-Kleinhüningen, Birsfelden and Muttenz Auhafen handle 6 million tonnes of goods and over 100,000 containers annually, corresponding to around 10 per cent of all Swiss imports. Every third litre of mineral oil and every fourth container are handled via the Rhine port terminals.

(Source and further information: Port of Switzerland)