HAMBURG, Feb 1 (Reuters) – Water levels on the Rhine and Danube in Germany were rising rapidly on Wednesday after recent rain and as warmer weather thawed snow, raising hopes of a return to normal shipping on the two rivers by the end of this week, traders said.
The Rhine and Danube have been too shallow for normal sailings since late November, with some barges in Germany only able to sail at 20 to 30 percent capacity this week.
“Southern sections of the Rhine are already back to normal shipping following a rise in water levels by 2 metres in some areas on Wednesday,” one German grain trader said. “We could see a return to normal shipping on the Rhine and Danube as early as Thursday.”
Traders said cargo was still being delivered. However, low water levels meant loads were divided among several vessels instead of being carried by a single vessel, increasing transport costs for cargo owners. Freight was also being transferred to road transport.
The Rhine is an important shipping route for commodities including grains, minerals, coal and oil products such as heating oil. The Danube is a major route for east European grain exports, especially maize, to west Europe. (Reporting by Michael Hogan; Editing by Susan Fenton)
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