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Inland waterways

What do we want to achieve ?

Inland waterway transport plays an important role for the transport of goods in Europe. More than 37 000 kilometres of waterways connect hundreds of cities and industrial regions. Some 20 out of 27 Member States have inland waterways, 12 of which have an interconnected waterway networks. The potential for increasing the modal share of inland waterway transport is, however, significant. Compared to other modes of transport which are often confronted with congestion and capacity problems, inland waterway transport is characterized by its reliability, its low environmental impact and its major capacity for increased exploitation. The European Commission aims to promote and strengthen the competitive position of the inland waterway transport in the transport system, and to facilitate its integration into the intermodal logistic chain.

Inland waterway transport is a competitive alternative to road and rail transport. In particular; it offers an environment friendly alternative in terms of both energy consumption and noise and gas emissions. Its energy consumption per km/ton of transported goods is approximately 17% of that of road transport and 50% of rail transport. Its noise and gaseous emissions are modest. In addition, inland waterway transport ensures a high degree of safety, in particular when it comes to the transportation of dangerous goods. Finally it contributes to the decongestion of the overloaded road network in densely populated regions.

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 than those of road transport.


Commission Implementing Decision (EU) 2015/974 of 17 June 2015 authorising Member States to adopt certain derogations pursuant to Directive 2008/68/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the inland transport of dangerous goods

Commission Directive 2013/49/EU of 11 October 2013 amending Annex II to Directive 2006/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council laying down technical requirements for inland waterway vessels

What's new - Inland waterways