Inland waterways freight transport - quarterly and annual data
- Data extracted in October 2017, most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned update: January 2019.
This article presents the main results from annual and quarterly statistics on inland waterways goods transport in the European Union (EU) in 2016. The article is based on both quarterly and annual data, for total and container transport, while data on the type of transport, type of goods, type of vessels and dangerous goods are only shown on a yearly basis.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 1.1 Inland waterways transport of goods remains stable in 2016 compared with 2015
- 1.2 Container transport continues its upward trend in 2016
- 1.3 ‘Metal ores’ is the largest individual goods category transported
- 1.4 Self-propelled barges accounted for more than half of total EU transport performance in 2016
- 1.5 ‘Flammable liquids’ is the most transported dangerous goods category in EU inland waterways
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
Main statistical findings
Inland waterways transport of goods remains stable in 2016 compared with 2015
Following the economic crisis in 2008, activity in Inland Waterways transport has been very volatile. Measured in TKm, activity increased sharply in the first three months of 2010. However, the industry failed to sustain this improvement in 2011 and fell back again before a further recovery in 2012, followed by an increase in 2013 and declines again in 2014 and 2015 (Figure 1). A stabilisation can be observed in 2016 with increases of 1 % and 3 % in national and transit transport, respectively, and with a 2 % decrease in international transport, leading to an overall very slight decrease by 0.2 % at the total level (Table 3). The trend went in the other direction in terms of tonnes with a increases of 1.5 % for national, 0.4 % for international transport, resulting to a rise of 0.9 % at the total level (Table 4).
At quarterly level, the movements were even more erratic. No seasonal pattern can be identified according to the trend of the inland waterways transport performed observed. Post economic crisis, a low peak was observed in the 4th quarter 2011 with 33 billion TKm. Right after, sharp rises were observed in the two first quarters of 2012. After ups and downs, a peak was reached in the 4th quarter 2013 at more than 40 billion TKm, the highest quarterly level recorded so far. In 2014, there were falls of 8 % and 3 % in the first and second quarters, respectively, followed by a 6 % recovery in the third quarter. The second half of 2015 showed a sharp fall (12 % in the 3rd quarter). An upturn was observed in the first semester of 2016 with increases of 9 % and 2 % in the first and second quarters, respectively. Large decreases were registered in the two last quarters of 2016, as well as in the first quarter 2017 (Figure and Table 1).
The main contributors to the EU inland waterways transport performance (in TKm) were by far Germany and the Netherlands. Transport on inland waterways between these two countries accounted for more than 70 % of the EU inland waterways transport performance in 2016 (Table 3). In 9 countries, the transport performance (in tTKm) has decreased in 2016. The largest decrease was observed for Finland by20 %, followed by Luxembourg by 19 %. The decrease observed by Germany was the one impacting the most the EU levels with a loss of almost 1 billion TKm in 2016 compared to 2015. In contrast, the Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia registered the largest increases in 2016 of 25 %, 23 % and 22 %, respectively.
In terms of tonnes (Table 4), Belgium joined the leading group, with a 20 % of the total EU transport of goods in 2016, compared to its 7 % share of TKm. On top of this ranking stays Netherlands with a share of 39 % of the total and Germany with a share of 24 %.
When looking at the transport of goods in tonnes, the picture was similar. Indeed, 8 countries recorded decreases. The largest falls in 2016 were found in Lithuania, Poland and Finland (-24 %, -22 % and -18 %, respectively) and the highest rise in Slovakia (+18 %, respectively). It has to be noted that while Poland registered high increase in the transport performance (in TKm), a large decrease was observed in the transport of goods in tonnes.
National and transit transport in TKm increased in 2016 (+1 % and +3 %, respectively) at EU level while international transport decreased by 2 % (Table 3).
Container transport continues its upward trend in 2016
For EU freight container transport performance, measured in TEU-Km, a sustained upward trend was observable in every year. A peak was reached in the 1st quarter of 2015, substantially above the levels recorded prior to the crisis in 2008. The level in the 1st quarter of 2015 was 25 % above that recorded in the 2nd quarter 2007.
The significant fall in the fourth quarter of 2016 (-8.4 % compared to the previous quarter) was compensated by the large increase observed in the first quarter of 2016 (+11 %). This led to a slight increase of 0.4% in 2016 compared to 2015. The first quarter 2017 showed a growth compared to previous quarter (+1.3 %) (Figure 2).
A seasonal pattern can be observed with falls in the fourth quarter of each year followed by an increase of the first quarter of the next year. When looking at the loading status of the containers, EU freight container transport performance in TEU-km dropped by 5 % in 2016 for empty containers but rose about 4 % for loaded containers (Table 5).
In 2016, loaded containers accounted for around two thirds of the total container transport performance (Table 5). The largest contribution came from the Netherlands, closely followed by Germany. The two countries together accounted for almost 90 % of the EU container transport performance. Four countries showed a decrease in container transport performance in 2016 compared to the previous year. After very few containers transported in 2015, Poland came back to the previous situation (2014 and 2013) with no container transported in 2016. The main decreases were observed for Luxembourg and Belgium (-63 % and - 22%, respectively). Four countries increased strongly their container transport performance in 2016: Hungary (+144 %), Romania (+133 %), Austria (+90 %) and Slovakia (+59 %).
‘Metal ores’ is the largest individual goods category transported
At EU level, the main types of goods (according to NST2007) transported in 2016 were ‘metal ores’, ‘coke and refined petroleum’ and ‘products of agriculture’, same as in 2015. Compared with 2015, while the share of ‘metal ores’ in total transport performance increased by 0.5 percentage points, the share of ‘coke and refined petroleum products’ remained stable at 16% and the share of ‘products of agriculture’ fell by 1.4 percentage points. In terms of TKm, the top-three products accounted for more than half of all goods transport on EU inland waterways in 2016 (Figures 3&4).
Self-propelled barges accounted for more than half of total EU transport performance in 2016
In 2016, the ‘self-propelled barge’ was the predominant type of vessel used for goods transport on EU inland waterways, carrying more than half of total EU transport of goods. The volume of goods transported with ‘self-propelled barge’ decreased slightly by 2 % compared to 2015. The second most used type of vessel was ‘barge not self-propelled’, a category that remained stable in 2016 compared to 2015. These two vessel categories accounted for the largest volumes transported for all countries with the exception of France and Slovakia. These two types of vessel together with ‘self-propelled tanker barges’ accounted for over 91 % of types of vessels used for 11 countries out of 13. The two exceptions to these very high levels, France and Slovakia recorded substantial levels of ‘other goods carrying vessels’ (35 % and 69 %, respectively) (Figures 5&6).
‘Flammable liquids’ is the most transported dangerous goods category in EU inland waterways
Transport by dangerous goods is the subject of a voluntary data collection. Only 8 countries out of 13 were able to report data in 2016. Among these, the Netherlands was the only major country able to provide figures by type of dangerous goods, while Germany only provided the total tonnes of dangerous goods transported. While it is still difficult to paint a comprehensive picture at the EU level, it can be observed that ‘Flammable liquids’ was the main category of dangerous goods transported in all the countries reporting these data. Overall, “flammable liquids” accounted for almost 75 % of reported total dangerous goods transport. The Czech Republic, Croatia and Slovakia reported no or very little transport of dangerous goods in 2016 (Table 6).
Data sources and availability
All figures presented in this article have been extracted from the Eurostat online inland waterways transport database. The related datasets are collected according to the Regulation (EC) No 1365/2006 on statistics of goods transport by inland waterways implemented by the Regulation (EC) No 425/2007 and amended by the Regulation (EC) No 1304/2007 and by Regulation (EU) No 1954/2016.
Fourteen Member States are obliged to deliver data: Belgium (BE), Bulgaria (BG), Czech Republic (CZ), Germany (DE), France (FR), Croatia (HR), Luxembourg (LU), Hungary (HU), the Netherlands (NL), Austria (AT), Poland (PL), Romania (RO), Slovakia (SK) and the United Kingdom (UK). Following the requirements of Regulation (EC) No 1365/2006 (article 2, point 3), the United Kingdom is delivering only the reduced annual dataset E1 (annex E of the Regulation (EC) No 1365/2006).
On a voluntary basis, Italy (IT), Lithuania (LT) Finland (FI) and Sweden (SE) provide the reduced dataset E1 (annex E of the Regulation (EC) No 1365/2006).
- When presenting quarterly data (Figures 1, 2 and Tables 1, 2), EU-28 includes only Member States obliged to provide data with the exception of the United Kingdom.
- When presenting annual transport of goods (Tables 3, 4 and Figures 3 and 4), EU-28 includes data for all Member States providing data. Sweden is not included in Figures 3 and 4 because data are not available by type of goods for this country.
- When presenting annual container data (Figure 2 and Table 5), EU-28 includes only Member States obliged to provide data with the exception of the United Kingdom.
- When presenting annual data by type of vessel (Figures 5 and 6), EU-28 includes only Member States obliged to provide data with the exception of the United Kingdom.
Calculation of EU aggregates: In Table 4, the EU-28 international and total goods transport in tonnes is calculated excluding double counting. The EU-28 total international transport is calculated by adding the international unloadings plus the international loading for which the loading country is not in the EU-28. Then, the EU-28 total transport is calculated by adding the national transport and the total international transport.
National inland waterways transport: Inland waterways transport between two ports of a national territory irrespective of the nationality of vessel.
International inland waterways transport: Inland waterways transport between two ports located in different national territories. Inland waterways transit: Inland waterways transport through a national territory between two ports both located in another national territory or national territories provided that in the total journey within the national territory there is no transshipment.
Country specific notes
Bulgaria: Transit data supplied include Romanian national IWW transport data equivalent to Bulgarian transit transport.
Croatia: Quarterly transit transport is not available.
Italy: No data available for 2016. Data are delivered on a voluntary basis. Only a simplified annual dataset is provided.
Lithuania: Data are delivered on a voluntary basis. Only a simplified annual dataset is provided.
Hungary: Due to a methodological change, transit data are underestimated for the 3rd quarter 2013 and are not comparable with the other quarters.
Romania: Transit data supplied include Bulgarian national IWW transport data equivalent to Romanian transit transport.
Finland: Data are delivered on voluntary basis. Only a simplified annual dataset is provided.
Sweden: Data are not available for type of goods, only total transport is available. Data are delivered on a voluntary basis. Only a simplified annual dataset is provided.
United Kingdom: Following the requirements of Regulation No 1365/2006 (article 2 point 3), a simplified annual dataset is provided.
Breakdown by group of goods
The NST 2007 classification is available on RAMON.
- ":" not available
- "-" not applicable or real zero
- "0" less than half of the unit used and thus rounded to zero
The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the Regulation 1365/2006 on statistics of goods transport by inland waterways implemented by the Regulation 425/2007 and amended by the Regulation 1304/2007 and by Regulation 1954/2016
- Freight transport statistics
- Inland waterway transport statistics
- Inland waterways - statistics on container transport
Further Eurostat information
- All transport publications on line
- Energy, transport and environment indicators - 2016 edition
- Illustrated Glossary for Transport Statistics - 4th edition
- Transport, see:
- Inland waterways transport (t_iww)
- Goods transport by inland waterways (ttr00007)
- Transport, see:
- Inland waterways transport (iww)
- Inland waterways transport infrastructure (iww_if)
- Inland waterways transport equipment (iww_eq)
- Inland waterways transport - Enterprises, economic performances and employment (iww_ec)
- Inland waterways transport measurement - goods (iww_go)
- Inland waterways - accidents (iww_ac)
Methodology / Metadata
- Inland waterways transport measurement - goods (ESMS metadata file — iww_esms)
- All transport publications online
Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)