In the last few years the container gained more importance in the shipping industry. Until 10 years ago mainly piece goods were handled in standard containers while costly special containers were needed for all other goods/cargo. Now bulk goods are increasingly handled and transported at lower cost in standard containers as well. Therefore the rate of containerization amounts to for example 96,7% in the port of Hamburg in 2009.
For feed and tracking of containers from hinterland to seaports the customers have the choice between different modes of transportation such as trucks, railway and inland vessels. Because the transport route of the river Elbe still has significant reserved capacity unlike other routes, it suggest itself to make greater use of it. Since the mid-1990s container transport was put into practice on the river Elbe. Since 1995 this transport called „ECL2000“ is brought to market for the hinterland traffic Hamburg-Saxony / Anhalt-Saxony. The ports of Magdeburg, Aken and Riesa / Dresden organize the traffic in collaboration with the carrier Deutsche Binnenreederei AG.
A transport offer door to door is available for all customers whereas the inland habors also offer incidental services such as payment of duty, bulk storage, container repairs, stuffing / stripping as well as alternative solutions for trimodal transport. At the same time container services developed along the lower Elbe river between Brunsbüttel and Hamburg (Elbe-container-services) and between Hamburg and the northern German canal system (Braunschweig, Hannover, Minden) are developing.