Modelable Intermodal Facilities #5: Schwedenkai, Kiel, Germany

After a long break from posting anything on this website I thought I’d get back into the swing of things by taking a look at an interesting little intermodal facility in the German port-city of Kiel called Schwedenkai.

Hafen Kiel/Ostsee by BAW_Bundesanstalt für Wasserbau – Own work, CC BY 2.0, View Image

Schwedenkai is one of eight terminals that are part of the wider Port of Kiel. As you many have guessed from the name, Schwedenkai is the terminal for passengers and freight heading for Sweden. In the picture above, it’s the area between the water and the tree lined road from the bridge at the bottom, up to and including the flat areas around the Stena Line ship in the centre of the picture.

The compact nature of the rail-freight handling facilities at Schwedenkai means they could be built as a stand-alone module/cameo, as a small shelf-layout or even as part of a larger German-themed static layout. Read on to find out more…

As mentioned in the introduction, the Schwedenkai terminal handles all passenger and intermodal freight traffic shipped on Stena Line Ro-Ro (Roll-On Roll-Off) ferries between Kiel, Germany and Gothenburg, Sweden.

The satellite image above shows that Schwedenkai can be divided into three distinct areas. The central area alongside the blue-roofed Stena Line boat where cargo and passengers are loaded/unloaded via the curved ramp (for freight/cars) and the covered bridge (for foot passengers). There is another area to the north of the curved loading ramp that is used for storage of freight trailers and swap bodies. The third area to the south of the road marked Bollhörnkai is the small rail yard where containers, trailers and swap-bodies are loaded and unloaded.

Here’s an image of the intermodal yard looking south towards Kiel. (I believe this photo was taken from on/in the tall building visible on Bollhörnkai in the satellite image above):

Blick auf die Kieler Woche 2019 vom Bollhörnkai aus by Fabian Horst – Own work, (Cropped by NScaleNotes),
CC BY-SA 4.0, View Image

As you can see the rail yard has three relatively short tracks under a large crane and one longer track alongside the wide tree-lined road called Kaistraße. Although only three of the four tracks are under the crane, all four tracks can be used for loading/unloading as the site also has a fleet of reach-stackers.

Helpfully, the Port of Kiel has actually made a detailed, scaled PDF plan of the site available online via their website. I can’t embed it here but you can view and download it by following this link.

Going by this PDF, the boundary of the yard is roughly inline with the grey low-rise building to next to the bridge in the image above. This covers an area of about 170m x 50m in real-life which scales to a very modelable area of about 100cm x 30cm in N scale!

Cranes always make interesting scratchbuilding subjects but if you had a bit more room for a layout you’d also have space to model some of the interesting architecture along the waterfront and possibly even have a go at scratchbuilding (or at least part of) one of the huge Stena Line RoRo ferries that operate the Kiel-Gottenburg service.

Stena Scandinavica am Kieler Schwedenkai by Fabian Horst – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, View Image

But back to the trains…. You can see a wide range of containers, tanktainers and swap-bodies being loaded and unloaded at Schwedenkai, including tanktainers with hazard markings which surprised me as the ships also carry passengers. I’ve also seen a few images that suggest containers and swap-bodies from Scandinavian specialist logistics companies such as BlueCargo and Ekol Nordics often make up a large part of the intermodal trains that arrive at Schwedenkai.

Below is a slightly older image of the Schwedenkai terminal (I believe it was taken before the modern gantry crane was built) just to give you a flavour of the kind of cargo you can expect to see moving through the yard.

Blick vom Bollhörnkai by Georg Gasch – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, View Image

Trains arriving in Schwedenkai tend to be pulled by small diesel locomotives like the Voith 10BB, MAK/Vossloh G1206, DB Class V 90 and I’ve even seen photos of a Vossloh G6 working the yard. Many of these are already available in N scale but any small diesel locomotive and even some of the larger ones wouldn’t look out of place if you wanted to use a bit of modellers license.

It’s been pretty difficult to find images of modern operations at Schwedenkai that I could use in this post so if you want to see more I’d recommend checking out this Pinterest board of images I’ve created from inside and immediately around the terminal.

There is also a wealth of older Schwedenkai images on the Creative Commons website here. Many date from the early 70’s when Schwedenkai was redeveloped but some appear to be older and will definitely be of interest if you prefer to model older railway operations.

There is one final interesting thing going on at Schwedenkai that I don’t think I’ve seen in other intermodal yards before and it appears to offers an opportunity for some 3D printing/scratchbuilding. In most intermodal yards container are loaded onto standard 20ft or 40ft trailers, before being hitched to a yard-unit or road-going lorry and moved into storage or out of the yard to their final destination. At Schwedenkai some of the containers are loaded onto special trailers like the ones shown in the picture below before being hauled up the ramp to be loaded onto the ship:

Blick auf die Kieler Woche 2019 vom Bollhörnkai aus by Fabian Horst – Own work,
(Extreme Crop by NScaleNotes), CC BY-SA 4.0, View Image

Now in this image all the tanktainers on these special trailers appear to be European style swap-tanks, so perhaps these trailers ride lower than a standard container trailer which allows the slightly higher swap-bodies to be stowed in a hold space designed for standard height ISO shipping containers. Unfortunately I don’t have any clearer images at the moment and no other ideas. If any one has any ideas please leave a comment below.

As Schwedenkai is just one of a number of interesting rail yards and rail served industries in the Kiel area so I’m sure I’ll be back looking at other areas soon.

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