A €171m freight hub in Lehrte, east of Hannover, described as Germany’s most advanced such facility, has welcomed its first trains two years after construction began.

Following months of testing, the MegaHub Lehrte container terminal was officially opened on June 23 by German Rail (DB) member of the management board for infrastructure Mr Ronald Pofalla. Also attending the ceremony was Mr Enak Ferlemann, state secretary at the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure and Dr Bernd Althusmann, transport minister for Lower Saxony.

Up to 13 trains per day will use the facility, taking 250,000 lorry journeys off the road and saving 120,000 tonnes of CO2.  The site features three 20m high cranes and 12 autonomous electric transporters that sort the containers and allocate them to freight trains. A central computer system oversees the loading and movement of the containers.

"Shifting freight to the green rail system is one of the simplest and most effective measures for protecting the climate,” Profalla says. “Transhipment processes at Lehrte are faster than anywhere else in Germany. With every train that departs from here, we remove 52 lorries from our roads and thereby automatically cut CO2 emissions.” Ferlemann confirmed that the German government’s clear political agenda is to shift traffic from road to rail.