2016 trends – outlook for 2017

2016 trends – outlook for 2017

Behind the figures of the past years, profound changes are taking place. The well-known image of barges transporting coal, ores and petroleum is slowly overtaken by increasing high value shipments of containers and chemical products. This points to two lasting trends. The transition towards an energy-efficient and low-carbon economy on the one hand and the increasing integration of inland waterway transport in the supply chain on the other.

Inland waterways shipped in total more than 548 million tonnes in 2016 or 5 million tonnes more than in 2015. Tonne-km performance stayed more or less stable at 147 million.

The Netherlands and Germany remain the EU’s largest inland shipping nations, followed by Belgium and France. Together, more than 80% of volumes by barge are shipped on their territory, accounting for more than 70% of the overall transport performance. By modal share, the Netherlands, Romania and Bulgaria carry most goods by inland shipping.

Poland and Slovakia registered an upswing in transport performance of over 20% in 2016, while Austria, Belgium and France saw a strong increase in transport volumes. Metal ores, coke and refined petroleum and agribulk still represent half of the transport performance while coal and fuel markets stagnate. The agribulk business and the building industry are expected to continue an upward trend and the container business continues to expand on inland waterways.

2017 is set on the same growth path with an increase in traffic volumes in Austria, Belgium, The Netherlands. Despite varying water levels in Germany, more volumes were shipped.

Trends in waterway logistics
Traffic and volumes 2015-2016

European inland waterways by numbers:

  • A 40,000km congestion-free network
  • 20,000km accessible to 1,000 tonne vessels
  • 75% of EU waterway traffic crosses borders
  • 550 million tonnes are shipped by waterways every year