SHARE
COPY LINK

TECH

Revealed: The German town where boats take the elevator

Germany's whopping new boat lift could lug the weight of 50 blue whales over a stretch of canal between Poland and Berlin.

Germany's new boat lift in Niederfinow.
Germany's new boat lift in Niederfinow. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Patrick Pleul

The powerful concrete elevator – the country’s largest – is designed for big modern barges, and began welcoming ships for the first time on Wednesday.

The engineering feat in Niederfinow, eastern Germany, measures 133 by 46 metres and stands at 55 metres tall.

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing said it was “taking inland waterway transport into the future”.

The lift around 50 kilometres from Berlin takes a few minutes to hoist boats over a height of 36 metres – allowing them to travel smoothly from the Polish port of Szczecin to the German capital.

With its mesh of metal cables, the huge concrete structure rises up against a backdrop of green fields by the Oder-Havel Canal in the state of Brandenburg.

The lift was built to replace an old one in the same location, commissioned in 1934 but no longer sufficient for modern maritime traffic.

Tourist attraction

The new version is 30 metres longer than its predecessor and can carry nearly twice as much weight — equivalent to “50 adult blue whales or 1,600 elephants”, Wissing said at the official opening on Tuesday.

A ship comes out of the new lift in Niederfinow.

A ship comes out of the new lift in Niederfinow. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Patrick Pleul

Building the structure was not plain sailing, though – the process was delayed eight years by late deliveries, a supplier going bankrupt, worker shortages and the coronavirus pandemic.

Local media dubbed the project the maritime BER, a reference to Berlin’s long-delayed airport which finally opened in 2020.

The old structure was the tallest boat lift in the world when it was built.

That record has long since fallen to a mighty lift at the Three Gorges Dam in China, which raises and lowers boats over a distance of 113 metres.

Niederfinow’s old lift will continue operating until 2025, and live on as the main tourist attraction in the rural village of around 600 inhabitants.

 By Isabelle LE PAGE

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

TECH

How German authorities are cracking down on Google

Germany's antitrust regulator on Wednesday criticised the way Google handles users' data and threatened action against the US tech giant.

How German authorities are cracking down on Google

Data collected by Google was used to “create very detailed user profiles which the company can exploit for advertising and other purposes”, the Federal Cartel Authority said.

Based on a preliminary assessment, the watchdog determined that users were not given sufficient clarity on the “far-reaching processing of their data across services” by the tech company.

“General and indiscriminate data retention…  is not permissible” without giving users choice, the watchdog said.

The Federal Cartel Authority was therefore “currently planning to oblige the company to change the choices offered”, it said, adding that it expected to issue its final decision this year.

READ ALSO: Germany asks EU to rein in Twitter after ‘arbitrary’ bans by CEO Musk

“Google’s business model relies heavily on the processing of user data,” said the authority’s chief Andreas Mundt.

The digital giant had “access to relevant data gathered from a large number of different services” which meant it enjoyed “a strategic advantage over other companies”, Mundt said in a statement.

Google said in a statement it would continue its “constructive dialogue” with the Authority “in order to address their concerns”.

The warning comes after Google was classified as a company of “paramount significance across markets” in 2021.

The designation gives Germany’s regulators the option to intervene earlier against potentially uncompetitive practices by huge digital companies.

Wielding the new legislation, the watchdog has also opened probes into US tech giants such as Amazon and Facebook.

At the end of last year, the regulator shelved a separate investigation into Google’s News Showcase service, after the firm made “important adjustments” to ease competition concerns.

Big tech companies have been facing increasing scrutiny around the globe over their dominant positions as well as their tax practices.   

In July 2022, the European Parliament adopted the Digital Markets Act to curb the market dominance of Big Tech, with violators facing fines of up to 10 percent of their annual global sales.

SHOW COMMENTS