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Graphic element Research > Growth > Research projects > Land & marine transport projects > Modern waterbus reduces impact on venice
Graphic element Modern waterbus reduces impact on venice

Venice's urban water transport system is to be overhauled in the next decade as the city's ageing fleet of 'vaporetti' is replaced by a new model of waterbus. Designed to improve the performance of the city's passenger transport system while reducing the risk of erosion by wave wash for Venice's historic buildings, the new low impact water bus will form the basis of the fleet of the future.

The damaging effects of so-called 'wave wash' - the waves generated by ships - on buildings has been particularly felt in Venice. The city relies heavily on its fleet of vaporetti as the principal means of public passenger transport on its canal system and the adjacent lagoon. The principal objective of the LIUTO (Low Impact Urban Transport Water Omnibus) project was the design of a new hull form which would minimise this wave wash while maintaining or improving the manoeuvrability and performance of the vessel itself.

Falling under the 'Technologies for means of transport' sub-programme of the European Commission's Industrial and Materials Technologies (BRITE/EURAM 3) programme in FP4, the LIUTO industrial research project consisted of a collaborative venture between six partners from three European countries.

Operating in canals and open water

Venice's vaporetti are managed by the local passenger transport company Azienda Consorzio Trasporti Veneziano (ACTV), the LIUTO project's prime contractor. ACTV is responsible for all public transport (road and marine) in and around Venice.

ACTV identified its requirements for a new design of vessel in view of two very different conditions in which they must operate:

1. In the narrow, shallow waters of the Venetian canal system; and
2. In the open waters of the lagoon or 'lido'.

The aim was to design a new model that would produce minimum wave wash while achieving optimal performance in terms of energy efficiency and manoeuvrability. As the degree of wave wash generation is principally determined by the structure of the ship's hull, LIUTO set out to redesign a new hull for the vaporetti using advanced technologies developed for this purpose.

Improving the hull design

The basic hull form for the LIUTO waterbus was designed, developed and refined by the Department of Naval Architecture (D.I.N.) of the Frederico II University in Naples, Italy. The objectives were to create a lightweight, stress-resistant and low maintenance vessel with significantly reduced wave formation. Several variations were sent to the Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN) for optimisation using MARIN's own RAPID code, an advanced technology developed to measure wave generation and wave impact.

The LIUTO project permitted the extension, application and validation of the latest tools for predicting and minimising wave wash. The RAPID code was applied to several prototypes of the LIUTO waterbus to determine the optimal hull form. MARIN tested the units in both deep and shallow water, and at high and low speeds. The resulting modifications to the LIUTO design resulted in a 30 % reduction in wave generation at the ship's median speed.

Intermarine S p A of Sarzana, Italy performed the material tests, designed the structure and constructed the vessel prototype in highly resistant composite material suited to the vessel's difficult operating conditions, which include impacts, vandalism and exposure to solar radiation.

  Optimising vessel performance

In order to improve the manoeuvrability of the vessel and facilitate docking, a new azimuthal propulsion system was constructed by German marine propulsion specialist Schottel. Two propellers suited to this propulsion system were studied and built by the shipbuilding research institute Schiffbau-Versuchanstalt Potsdamm.

Because Venice's water traffic legislation permits only two speeds - slow in the canals and faster in open water - a parallel project was initiated to design a hybrid diesel-electric system for the LIUTO. The hybrid system, constructed by Italian company Ansaldo Sistemi Industriali, is intended to optimise the boat's performance at both speeds, permitting a switch from diesel when operating in open waters to electric propulsion in the canals.

  Forming a fleet for the future

The new LIUTO design will gradually replace the entire fleet of existing vaporetti over a period of eight to ten years. The city of Venice will benefit greatly in terms of preserving its historic buildings while at the same time improving its urban passenger transport system. The technology developed and perfected through the LIUTO project is equally applicable in other European cities that rely on urban water transport, such as Amsterdam and Lisbon.

Operating in canals and open water
Improving the hull design
Optimising vessel performance
Forming a fleet for the future

Key data

Sustainability is a major feature of the Land transport and marine technologies key action. The LIUTO project developed a new waterbus design that will reduce water-wash damage to Venice's historical buildings and offers better performance in the city canals and on open water.

Project: LIUTO - Low Impact Urban Transport Water Omnibus (BRPR960210)

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