> Why inland waterways

Inland Waterway Transport is a competitive and sustainable choice in multimodal transport chains.

The reasons why future-oriented, multimodal trans-European transport networks need to comprise inland waterway transport are numerous. Find 10 facts below:

1.    Safety record
There is a very low probability of accidents, and should an accident happen, the costs of that accident are low in economic and human terms. Barges lead the way in safe transport, especially for dangerous cargoes, with extremely high standards of inspection, training and licensing.

2.    Environmental costs
All studies carried out to quantify environmental costs ultimately show the same result: Inland waterway transport is the most environmentally friendly mode of transport. Shipping more goods on water will help to reduce greenhouse gases and traffic congestion.

3.    Time reliability
Every year congestion on the roads increases. This in turn increases costs and journey times, making Europe’s economy less and less competitive. Inland waterways are the alternative that bypasses clogged transport routes and reliably gets freight to its end point on time.

4.    Infrastructure costs
Shifting the transport of goods to waterways reduces the amount of money needed for investments in transport infrastructure. With comparably low investments transport volumes on waterways can be significantly increased. Inland waterways also have comparably low maintenance costs.

5.    Carrying capacity
Inland vessels offer an enormous carrying capacity per transport unit. One motorized cargo vessel with a load of 2,000 tons carries as much cargo as 50 railway cars at 40 tons each or 80 trucks at 25 tons each. Combined with comparably low transport costs, inland vessels show an excellent cost-benefit-ratio.

6.    Intermodal networking
Europe’s network of inland waterways link ports, towns and cities with centers of commerce and industry providing clear opportunities for cost-effective solutions in corporate supply chains. Inland waterways form the backbone of a truly intermodal network.

7.    Free capacity
Inland waterways still offer a large amount of available capacity. For instance, currently only approximately 15% of the Danube’s total capacity is being utilized for inland navigation. As other modes of transport increasingly suffer from congestion, capacity problems and delays which affect mobility and economic competitiveness, inland waterway transport is an obvious choice to play a more prominent role in logistics chains.

8.    Abnormal loads
Due to their size and loading capacity, inland vessels are especially suitable for transporting goods with unusual sizes and weights. Transformers, turbines, silos, boilers, aircraft sections, locomotives, helicopters etc. can often only reach their destination by ship due to limitations in road and rail transport (e.g. low bridges, narrow roads and roundabouts).

9.    Tailor-made transportation
There is almost no type of cargo which cannot be transported on inland waterways. Shipping companies offer a wide range of vessels types such as dry cargo vessels, liquid cargo vessels, container vessels and Roll on/Roll off-vessels which suit any need of freight forwarders. Tailor-made logistics concepts ensure that goods are transported to the right place at the right time.

10.    Efficient information and communications technology
High-performance information and communications technology is a prerequisite for effective logistics chain management. River Information Services (RIS) provide the basis for customized services for forwarders integrating inland navigation in their supply chain. RIS links freight data to traffic data, enabling authorized users in the logistics chain to track the cargo in real time.