Statistics Explained

Inland waterway transport statistics


Data extracted in September 2021

Planned article update: October 2022

Highlights

In 2020, the total volume of goods transported on European inland waterways was 505 million tonnes, a decrease of 3.2 % compared to 2019.

Metal ores and other mining and quarrying products was the main product category transported on EU inland waterways in 2020, accounting for 23 % of the tonne-kilometres performed in total for all products and 30 % of total tonnes transported.

Inland waterways transport of metal ores and other mining and quarrying products; peat; uranium and thorium (03) by main reporting countries, 2020
Source: Eurostat - (iww_go_atygo)


This article presents inland waterways goods transport in the European Union (EU) and other countries connected to the EU inland waterways network. It focuses on the main products transported, based on annual data for 2019 and comparisons with the previous year.

In 2020, the total volume of goods transported on European inland waterways was 505 million tonnes, a decrease of 3.2 % compared with the previous year. The total transport performed reached 132 billion tonne-kilometres, down 5.7 % from the previous year, reflecting a decrease in the distances performed. The main product categories transported by inland waterways were ‘Metal ores and other mining and quarrying products’ and ‘Coke and refined petroleum products’. The European countries with the largest inland waterways transport were the Netherlands and Germany.

Full article

‘Metal ores and other mining and quarrying products’ - main product category transported

Metal ores and other mining and quarrying products (NST2007 division ‘03’) was the main product category transported on EU inland waterways in 2020, both in terms of tonne-kilometres (Table 1) and in terms of tonnes (Table 2). This product category accounted for almost one fourth (23 %) of the tonne-kilometres performed in total for all products and almost one third (30 %) of total tonnes transported. A large decrease of the metal ores transport performance in tonne-kilometres was recorded in 2020 compared with 2019 (-11.7 %). To a lesser extent a fall was also observed in the tonnes transported (-4.4 %). When looking into different types of transport in detail, transit transport showed the largest decrease with respect to tonne-kilometres (-26.6 %), followed by international transport (-12.2 %) while national transport registered a more moderate decrease by 1.4 %. When analysing the tonnes transported, international transport significantly decreased by 10.2 %, while national decreased only by 0.4 %.

Table 1: Inland waterways transport by type of goods and type of transport, EU, 2019-2020
(million tonne-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat - (iww_go_atygo)

‘Coke and refined petroleum products’ - second main product category transported

Coke and refined petroleum products (NST2007 division ‘07’) made up the second most important product category transported on EU inland waterways in 2020, both in terms of tonne-kilometres and tonnes. It represented 16 % of the total tonnes transported and the tonne-kilometres performed. Compared with 2019, transport of ‘coke and refined petroleum products’ showed a substantial decrease for tonnes (-5.9 %) and tonne-kilometres (-8.9 %).

For both of these large product categories for EU inland waterways transport, national transport accounted for the majority in terms of tonnes (61 % for ‘Metal ores and other mining and quarrying products’ and 51 % for ‘Coke and refined petroleum products’). The situation is reversed when looking at tonne-kilometres, where international transport accounted for 48 % of total tonne-kilometres travelled for ‘Metal ores and other mining and quarrying products’ and 59 % for ‘Coke and refined petroleum products’. This is a reflection of the fact that the journey lengths in international journeys are generally longer than for national transport.

Table 2: Inland waterways transport by type of goods and type of transport, EU, 2019-2020
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat - (iww_go_atygo)

There was a substantial increase of 18.2 % from 2019 to 2020 for ‘products of agriculture’ in terms of tonne-kilometres (NST2007 division ‘01’), while there was a large fall for ‘Coal and lignite; crude petroleum and natural gas’ in the same period (NST2007 division ‘28’) (-25.3%).

The Netherlands and Germany dominated transport of ‘metal ores and other mining and quarrying products'

In 2020, the main country involved in the transport of ‘metal ores and mining and quarrying products’ was the Netherlands, which alone accounted for 41.5 % of the tonnes transported and 36.7 % of the tonne-kilometres performed (Figure 1). Germany came second on both measures, with 22.6 % of the tonnes transported and 29.7 % of the tonne-kilometres. This is not surprising, as both countries have extensive inland waterways networks that play an important role in their national transport systems. The networks are also connected to major ports such as Rotterdam and Hamburg, which are key hubs for imports to and exports from the EU.

Figure 1: Inland waterways transport of metal ores and other mining and quarrying products; peat; uranium and thorium (03) by main reporting countries, 2020
Source: Eurostat - (iww_go_atygo)

The next three countries in the top five were Belgium, France and Romania. However, the ranking of these three countries was different when looking at tonnes or tonne-kilometres. In terms of tonnes transported, Belgium came third with a share of 13.4 %, followed by France (10.6 %) and Romania (6.1 %). In terms of tonne-kilometres performed, Romania, with a share of 12.0 %, was in third place, followed by France (7.4 %) and Belgium (6.6 %). This situation reflects the fact that inland waterways journeys recorded by Romania and France operate over longer distances than for Belgium.

In terms of tonne-kilometres performed, the main route for inland waterways transport of ‘metal ores and other mining and quarrying products’ was between the Netherlands and Germany, accounting for more than two fifth (41.7 %) of the EU total (Table 3). The main flow was the one from the Netherlands to Germany (27.2 %), while the same route in the opposite direction from Germany to the Netherlands, was on the second place (14.5 %). Germany and the Netherlands were either the loading or the unloading country in seven of the top 10 country-to-country flows for ‘metal ores and other mining and quarrying products’. Belgium was the loading or unloading country in three of the top 10 flows. France, Serbia and Ukraine made two appearances in the top 10 flows. Austria and Romania appeared once in the top 10 flows. The flows from Ukraine to Austria and Serbia were in the fourth and eighth places.

Table 3: Top 10 international country flows for transport of metal ores and other mining and quarrying products; peat; uranium and thorium (03), 2020
(million tonne-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat - (iww_go_atygofl)

When looking at volumes in tonnes, the main route observed was also between the Netherlands and Germany, accounting for almost half (49.4 %) of the EU total (Table 4). The main country-to-country flow was the one from the Netherlands to Germany (36.0 %). The top 10 flows in terms of tonnes was dominated by four countries: The Netherlands (with five appearances), Germany and Belgium (with four appearances each) and France (with three appearances). The picture is completed by the flows from Ukraine to Austria in the eighth place and from Slovakia to Austria in ninth place.

Table 4: Top 10 international country flows for transport of metal ores and other mining and quarrying products; peat; uranium and thorium (03), 2020
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat - (iww_go_atygofl)

The Netherlands and Germany also dominated transport of ‘coke and refined petroleum products'

In 2020, the main countries involved in the inland waterways transport of ‘coke and refined petroleum products’ were, as in previous years, the Netherlands and Germany (Figure 2). The Netherlands ranked first with 60.5 % of the total tonnes transported in Europe, and 46.4 % of the tonne-kilometres performed. Germany appears in second place with 41.2 % of the tonne-kilometres performed but only 25.8 % of the tonnes transported. This reflects the longer distances performed by vessels passing through German inland waterways. In terms of tonnes transported, Belgium came third with a share of 5.1 %, followed by France (3.5 %) and Romania (1.1 %). In terms of tonne-kilometres performed, Romania, with a share of 3.2 %, was in third place, followed by Belgium (2.8 %) and France (2.5 %).

Figure 2: Inland waterways transport of coke and refined petroleum products (07) by main reporting countries, 2020
Source: Eurostat - (iww_go_atygo)

In terms of tonne-kilometres performed for ‘coke and refined petroleum products’, the flows between the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium occupied the first five of the top 10 country-to-country flows, as well as the eighth flow, and accounted for 72.3 % of total tonne-kilometres performed on inland waterways in Europe (Table 5). The main flow is from the Netherlands to Germany, accounting for 17.4 % of the total tonne-kilometres performed. Switzerland and France also appear in the top 10 as unloading countries receiving goods loaded in the Netherlands and Germany.

Table 5: Top 10 international country flows for transport of coke and refined petroleum products (07), 2020
(million tonne-kilometres)
Source: Eurostat - (iww_go_atygofl)

When looking at volumes of ‘coke and refined petroleum products’ transported in tonnes, the picture is quite similar (Table 6). There is a predominance of the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium in the top 10 flows. The seven first flows in the top 10 as well as the flow in the tenth position involve one of these countries. The flows from Austria to Hungary and from Slovakia to Austria complete the top ten in the eighth and ninth positions respectively. The main flow is from Belgium to the Netherlands, accounting for 39.4 % of the total tonnes transported, which was only fourth for tonne-kilometres (11.4 %), a reflection of the shorter journey lengths.

Table 6: Top 10 international country flows for transport of coke and refined petroleum products (07), 2020
(thousand tonnes)
Source: Eurostat - (iww_go_atygofl)

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

Excel.jpg Inland waterway transport statistics by type of goods

Data sources

All figures presented in this article have been extracted from the Eurostat online inland waterways transport database. The related datasets are collected according to Regulation (EU) No 2018/974 of the European Parliament and of the Council on statistics of goods transport by inland waterways. Regulation (EU) No 2018/974 consolidated the initial Regulation (EC) No 1365/2006 on statistics of goods transport by inland waterways and all its implementing and amending legal acts: Commission Regulation (EC) No 425/2007 (implementing regulation), Commission Regulation (EC) No 1304/2007 (amending regulation) and Regulation (EU) No 2016/1954 (amending regulation).

Regulation (EU) 2018/974 states that data must be supplied by all Member States for which the total volume of goods transported annually by inland waterways exceeds one million tonnes. Currently, 17 Member States provide data on mandatory or voluntary basis: Belgium (BE), Bulgaria (BG), Czechia (CZ), Germany (DE), France (FR), Croatia (HR), Italy (IT), Lithuania (LT), Luxembourg (LU), Hungary (HU), the Netherlands (NL), Austria (AT), Poland (PL), Romania (RO), Slovakia (SK), Finland (FI) and Sweden (SE). The legal act requires only the provision of a reduced annual dataset for countries exceeding the one million tonnes threshold but where no international or transit traffic exists.

Definitions 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.

Transit inland waterways transport: 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.

EU includes data for all Member States providing data.

Calculation of EU aggregates: In Table 2, EU international and total goods transport in tonnes is calculated excluding double counting. EU total international transport is calculated by adding the international unloadings plus the international loading for which the unloading country is not in the EU. Then, the EU total transport is calculated by adding national transport and the total international transport.

For transit transport measured in tonnes, an EU aggregate equal to the sum of the country figures is not valid because volumes of freight transported are reported by all transit countries through which the transport takes place before reaching the unloading destination. Therefore the same volume may be reported two, three, or more times without the possibility to eliminate multiple counting. At the same time, figures for transit transport are included in the EU national or international transport as they are reported not only by the transit countries but also by the loading and unloading countries. So for the EU total volume of freight, it is enough to sum the total national and international figures.


Calculation of country flows: In Tables 3 and 5, presenting the tonne-kilometres results, international and transit transport reported by the Member States are taken into account. In Tables 4 and 5, presenting the results in tonnes, only international transport reported by the Member States is taken into account in order to avoid double counting. In addition, the loading country in these two tables also corresponds to the reporting country. Data from Italy, Lithuania, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom are not included in these tables.

Country-specific notes

Bulgaria: Transit data supplied include Romanian national IWW transport data equivalent to Bulgarian transit transport.

Italy: No data available for 2020.

Romania: Transit data supplied include Bulgarian national IWW transport data equivalent to Romanian transit transport.

Sweden: Data are delivered on a voluntary basis. Only a simplified annual dataset is provided.

Breakdown by group of goods

The NST 2007 classification is available on RAMON.

Symbols

  • ":" not available
  • "-" not applicable or real zero
  • "0" less than half of the unit used and thus rounded to zero

Context

The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of Regulation (EU) 974/2018 of the European Parliament and of the Council on statistics of goods transport by inland waterways.

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Inland waterways transport (iww)
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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)