Intermodal Freight Transport

Chapter 8: Inland Waterway, Short-Sea, and Coastal Shipping


Transport by inland waterway, short-sea, and coastal shipping is taking on an increasingly important role in the development of Euro-wide intermodal freighting operations. Many individual European Union (EU) Member State governments and the European Commission (EC) itself see these modes as offering great potential for transferring freight traffic away from Europe s grossly overcrowded road networks, especially as the waterways are currently so significantly under utilized and because they offer a truly environmentally beneficial alternative to the bane of congested roads and polluting heavy lorries. According to information about inland waterways on the EU s Europa web site (

Compared to other modes which are often confronted with congestion and capacity problems, inland waterway transport is characterized by its reliability and has a major unexploited capacity. Inland waterway transport has major assets. It is particularly effective and energy-efficient; its energy consumption per tonne-kilometre of transported goods corresponds to one-sixth of the consumption [of road transport] and to half of that of rail transport. Its noise and gaseous emissions are modest. According to recent studies, the total external costs of inland navigation (in terms of accidents, congestion, noise emissions, air pollution and other environmental impacts) are seven times lower in than those of road transport. Inland waterway transport ensures a high degree of safety, in particular when it comes to the transport of dangerous goods. Finally it contributes to the decongestion of the overloaded road network in densely populated regions.

The important role of waterways is clearly demonstrated on a world scale,...


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