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‘CREATING’ shifting cargo from road to water

The EU-funded CREATING project brings together 29 partners from nine European countries, including nearly all countries bordering the Rhine and Danube rivers. Its goal is to reinvigorate waterborne freight traffic through innovative solutions, releasing some of the pressure on European roads.

River Danube © Peter Gutierrez
River Danube
© Peter Gutierrez

Today, European roads are increasingly being used to the exclusion of other transport modes. With congestion steadily increasing throughout the EU and currently estimated to cost around 2% of its GDP, the Union is now making a concerted effort to encourage ‘modal shift’ away from roads and towards other transport modes such as railways and inland waterways.

“The primary goal of CREATING is to shift cargo away from trucks and towards inland ships,” explains project coordinator Henk Blaauw of Dutch Logistic Development. “If we can have some of the growth of demand for freight transport absorbed by inland waterborne transport, this will mean less pressure on road capacity and reduced queuing problems on our highways.” Moreover, he adds, transport by ships produces three times less CO 2 than does road transport, on average.

Bold new approach

New vessel design © Dutch Logistic Development
CREATING innovation
© Dutch Logistic Development

CREATING is developing innovative solutions to strengthen the position of inland navigation, making it more economically feasible and as clean and safe as possible. The project is setting up concrete example cases, including optimal technical solutions and innovative ship designs. Once test vessels are up and running, economic feasibility will be assessed under real operating conditions.

“We hope to increase waterborne transport by strengthening the position of entrepreneurs in inland navigation,” says Blaauw. “Only when such transport is economically advantageous can we realistically expect to see its increased use. Therefore, our feasibility studies on integrating ships in transport chains are very important.” Cleaner ships are also a key area, he says. The CREATING programme includes extensive research on the environmental impact of demonstrator vessels.

CREATING progress

So far, with the project two-thirds completed, the research programme has been executed according to schedule. “The next step,” says Blaauw, “is to finish the programme paying especial attention to the demonstrators. Our final conference will focus on the feasibility assessment, comparing transport integrating inland waterways against transport via road only. This will include economic, environmental and safety elements.”

Blaauw says CREATING partners have worked well together. “Relations have been friendly and co-operative and it has been very nice to get acquainted with researchers in the Danube area. This kind of research in the EU really contributes to a better understanding of each other and the challenges that face all regions.”