Modelable Intermodal Facilities #4 (Ultra-Brag)

In this post I’ll be taking a look at the Rhine intermodal port facilities of Swiss logistics company Ultra-Brag.

Destiny by Andreina Schoeberlein – Own work, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, View Image

Ultra-Brag have three tri-modal (road/river/rail) facilities in the Swiss city of Basel. These are located in:

  • the Kleinhüningen neighbourhood of Basel;
  • the Birsfelden municipal area to the east of Basel;
  • and the port of Auhafen in Muttenz, a little further east.

The relatively compact nature of these sites means they could be built as modules/cameos, as shelf-layouts or even included as part of a larger static layout. Read on to find out more…

Let’s start by taking a look at the Kleinhüningen Ultra-Brag terminal as it’s not far from the SwissTerminal facility I featured in Modelable European Intermodal Terminals #2.

Kleinhüningen Terminal

The Kleinhüningen terminal handles a range of bulk goods such as foodstuffs, feeds, steel and containers.

The Kleinhüningen terminal is built on a long, narrow plot (ideal for modelling) between a road called Südquaistrasse and the water of Basel Rhineport basin number 2. You can use the Google Map imagery above to get a good feel for the site; it spans the area between the Ultra-Brag branded silos to the west (left of the image above) and the coal storage area to the east (right of the image above). It’s also worth following this link to some interesting drone footage of the Kleinhüningen site.

Feed and foodstuffs are stored in the silo buildings at the western end of the site. The dockside cranes can be fitted with grabbers to lift grains/feedstuff directly from barges moored-up in the dock. It is then lifted to hatches in the roof of the smaller storage building or onto the conveyor belt built into the structure of the larger Kangaroo crane alongside the silo buildings. The process of transferring grain using the Kangaroo crane is shown at about 2m:30s in this YouTube video.

Steel and other boxed goods are handled/stored in a huge covered warehouse at the eastern end of the complex. There are pictures of the exterior and interior of this building on the Ultra-Brag website.

For some time I was puzzled as to where the container facilities were; the container crane and storage area to the west of the site (next to the silos) is owned by another company and the area to the east of the site (next to covered warehouse) appears to be a coal storage area that is also owned by another company. It was only when I came to write this post that I found a time-lapse video of a container crane being constructed alongside the covered warehouse. The video was made in 2017 and as the satellite imagery of this area only shows one crane in this area it’s likely the satellite images were captured before the construction of the crane and container storage area.

Here’s a map of the Kleinhüningen terminal site:

The faint dashed black line shows the approximate boundaries of the facility. The red rectangles represent the 105cm x 40cm modules I’ve desgined; you’d need two of these to model the whole facility. You could also use a bit of selective compression and fit most of the facility onto three double T-Trak modules (the green box on image above).

If you’ve only got room for a single T-Trak module then you might have to do something a bit more creative and perhaps aim to capture a feel of the terminal by modelling just a small part of the facility, perhaps a scene inside/under the covered handling/warehouse building, a scene that uses one of the various cranes and buildings as scenic breaks or a view of the harbour tracks between terminal buildings.

Most of the pictures of the Kleinhüningen terminal show it being switched by a variety of older shunting locomotives owned or leased by Ultra-Brag. However they also own a newer MDD 4-03 diesel locomotive and there is video of the new Express Service MDD 4-03 shunting at Kleinhüningen.

Express Service is not a locomotive builder that I’d heard about before; they are based in Bulgaria and manufacture a small range of diesel and battery shunting locomotives. Interestingly, if you wanted to have a go at scratch-building an MDD 4 locomotive, the website includes a locomotive fact-sheet with clear front and side plans that include key dimensions.

Birsfelden Terminal

The Birsfelden terminal is the least documented and photographed of the three terminals. It handles bulk goods such as scrap metal, coal and soil.

The fact the map/satellite image above centres on Eberhard Recycling is no mistake. Although I haven’t been able to find anything to confirm my suspicions, it looks like the concrete storage pad that makes up this facility is used by both Eberhard Recycling and Ultra-Brag. Compare the satellite image above to this image of the Birsfelden site on the Ultra-Brag website. Eberhard liveried equipment is visible in the yard and along the waterfront in these images too.

Here’s a map of the area around Birsdelden terminal.

That mass of tracks and industrial buildings has so much potential I think I’ll have to come back to it in future posts. Anyway back to the Ultra-Brag/Eberhard facility.

The Birsfelden site is even more compact than the Kleinhüningen terminal:

The interesting thing about that is that the smaller footprint doesn’t necessarily mean it’s any easier to fit on a T-Trak module. In fact this site might actually benefit from creative orientation of the modules. If the long edge of the module is positioned perpendicular to the tracks you could fit the waterfront, the waterside tracks and the entire yard on a double T-Trak module (the green box on image above). Orientating a 105cm x 40cm module in the same way (the red boxes on the image above) would allow you to model the tracks that run to the industries further along Hafenstrasse as shown in the image below.

If you haven’t already spotted it, it’s worth taking a look at this image of a massive caterpillar-tracked Eberhard material loading machine that is used to load boats moored at the dock in Birsfelden terminal; it dwarfs an articulated lorry and it’d make an awesome scratchbuilding project….

Auhafen Port, Muttenz Terminals

Finally let’s take a look at the Ultra-Brag terminal in Auhafen port. The Auhafen facility is actually made up of two separate sites:

Terminal 1, set back from the Rhine and home to a huge and newly-built, bulk goods (food, feed and fertilizer) storage building.

Terminal 2 is the Rhine-side dock area and apart from loading and unloading operations there are areas for the storage and trans-shipment of steel, heavy-goods and containers.

Sandwiched between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are a road, numerous sidings and a small tank farm. This means that the cranes used to unload bulk goods in Terminal 2 are connected to the bulk storage building in Terminal 1 by a sophisticated conveyor-belt system that is visible in the imagery below.

The conveyor belt system runs along the dockside to the modern kangaroo crane at the southern end of Terminal 2 (for more about the conveyor system take a look at the links at the end of this post). The kangaroo crane in Auhafen is the same design as the one in the Kleinhüningen terminal.

Here’s a really nice shot of the Auhafen terminal kangaroo crane; a great reference photograph for another awesome scratch building project:

Crane by Andreina Schoeberlein – Own work, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, View Image

You’d definitely need some photo-etch to do those railings justice in N scale though 🙂

There is a second older crane in the northern part of Terminal 2 that is used to load and unload containers and other heavy equipment, such as Swiss-built rail cars for export:

Aeroexpress KISS EMUs Being Loaded Onto A Barge In Auhafen by Kabelleger/David Gubler – Own work,
CC BY-SA 4.0, View Image

There is another picture of the older Auhafen crane, taken from the opposite side on the Ultra-Brag website.

So let’s take a look at a map of the Auhafen site:

As you can see the Auhafen port area is another maze of tracks that would definitely warrant further exploration in future blog posts. The Ultra-Brag facilities are concentrated at the southern end of this area.

The waterside facilities would fit comfortably within two 105cm x 40cm modules (the red boxes on the image above) with enough space available to model the junction where the inland and dockside tracks meet. Another option would be modelling the large bulk storage facility of Terminal 1. The container storage area and container crane of Terminal 2 would fit on a double T-Trak module (the upper green box) with it’s longer side perpendicular to the tracks or you might choose to model the kangaroo crane with the tank farm as a backdrop (the lower green box).

The image below captures the feel of the Ultra-Brag facilities in Auhafen port. This image is looking towards the southern end of the terminal and the kangaroo crane. (Note that the conveyor belt system that is used to transfer cargo between the kangaroo crane and the storage building in Terminal 1 is visible above the locomotive).

Shunting Locomotive In The Auhafen Port, Muttenez by Dominik Schwind – Own work,
CC BY 2.0, View Image

The various rail served facilities in Auhafen use an eclectic range of shunting locomotives, a selection of these can be seen in this Auhafen gallery.

At first it appeared that certain locomotives operated only at particular facilities but the more images I find the more it appears that they move between facilities as needed or have been moved between the different facilities in the past. If anyone has any more information about the locomotives then please do drop me an email or leave a comment below.

Just to prove the point, here’s a picture of the Ultra-Brag Express Service MDD 4-03 locomotive in Auhafen; it’s usually seen in pictures of the Kleinhüningen terminal:

Shunting Locomotive by Andreina Schoeberlein – Own work, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, View Image

More Information & Video Links

I was surprised to see that some of the infrastructure at these Ultra-Brag facilities was constructed fairly recently, both the grain silos at Kleinhüningen and the storage warehouse at Auhafen were built in 2009. This Vimeo video documents the construction of the grain silos at Kleinhüningen and the storage warehouse at Auhafen; it’s narrated in German but it includes some nice aerial views of the sites and footage of operations at these facilities. There is also a time-lapse video about the construction of a new gantry crane on the Kleinhüningen site that hints at how busy these Rhine intermodal facilities are.

Here’s a YouTube video about the Bühler material handling equipment at the Kleinhüningen and Auhafen facilities, this time in English.

That’s about it for now but I’m sure I’ll be exploring other rail-served facilities in the Basel area soon…

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