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.