A well-designed logistic network is a key success factor for efficient inland navigation. More than by road transport, inland navigation is almost always part of a much broader logistics chain. Because of its dependence on navigable waterways, door-to-door transport with the use of only inland navigation is hardly possible and transport by inland navigation is thus combined with the transportation of the cargo by other modes of transport. Therefore, multimodal transport is an important issue for inland navigation.


The increase of multimodal transport leads also to an increased importance of a more efficient handling of transhipment, making new ways of transhipment is important. Another major logistic challenge is to make maximal use of inland navigation and the inland waterways to transport on. There are opportunities for inland waterway transport, because traffic congestion on the road is a major problem, especially in urban areas. For that reason, city distribution on the water could offer a good solution. Furthermore, it is possible to expand the products it is able to distribute, for example the distribution of fruit, flowers or other agricultural products. Another option is to think about ways of return cargo, for example waste collection by barge. In brief: new places, new types of cargo.




Logistic network design

An important logistic issue is to improve the connection between the main ports and the hinterland. One way to improve the network is to establish barge shuttles between seaports and container terminals or regional transhipment centres.


Multimodal transport

In multimodal transport, transport takes place by different modes of transport, so for example a combination of transport by road and by barge. Intermodal transport is a form of multimodal transport, in which the cargo itself isn't being handled during the transport and the transhipment. Aim of multimodal transport is to avoid traffic congestion and deliver cheaper and more efficient. Important in multimodal transport is the presence of a network of inland terminals and transhipment centres.


City distribution

The use of inland waterways in the cities - like city canals - offers a possible solution in avoiding the traffic congestion within and around cities and the regulations concerning delivery time windows. In the Netherlands, there are for example a couple of projects in which the city canals are used to distribute goods.


The first project is the 'Bierboot' (Beerboat) in Utrecht; a ship that has been run by the Municipality of Utrecht (by the harbour master) since 1996. This ship is used to deliver cargo - in the first instance, beverage - to businesses in the inner city of Utrecht. Since 2010 there is a second, electric ship available for use on the Utrecht city canals. Another project, in which city canals are used for the transportation of cargo, is 'Vracht door de Gracht' (Cargo on the City Canal) of the joint venture Mokum Mariteam. In this project several companies - ship-owning, waste collection and transport companies - has committed to run an electric ship to deliver cargo to businesses in the inner city of Amsterdam. This ship is equipped with a crane to load and unload the cargo. As return cargo the ship transports waste. The express transport company DHL uses a ship, owned by ship-owning company Rederij Lovers, to deliver parcels in the inner city of Amsterdam.


Crane barges

In order to solve the problem of a lack of handling capacity in the ports and terminals, floating container transferia with the use of crane barges could be a solution. Mercurius Shipping Group runs two barges for this business, the Mercurius-Amsterdam and the Transferium. These barges have been equipped with cranes, making it possible to load and unload other barges.


New types of cargo

In order to expand the services of inland navigation, new types of cargo (for inland navigation) should be studied and sometimes in these cases new logistic concepts should be used. There are several examples of projects concerning the transport of new types of cargo, below the case of Fresh Corridor.


Fresh Corridor is a three-year program; started in 2007 by Frugi Venta, a Dutch Fruit and Vegetables Trade Association. This initiative focuses on the transport of perishable fruits and vegetables on the waterways between the Port of Rotterdam, greenport Venlo, Fruitpact Betuwe, the ports of Vlissingen and Antwerp. Fresh Corridor is co-financed by the program 'Pieken in de Delta Zuidvleugel Randstad' (Peak in the Delta, South Wing Randstad) and also funded by companies within the sector. A key element of Fresh Corridor is the facilities in the Port of Rotterdam for cross docking, storage and handling. Containerization requires new logistics concepts and facilities. There is an increasing trend of import flows from the southern of Europe. In the long term, it is assumed that the focus will be on the fruit terminal in the area of the Port of Rotterdam. The Board of Fresh Corridor expects that Fresh Corridor will have a positive effect to the competitiveness and sustainability of the green ports. In the long term, the pressure on the main routes in Europe can be diminished.


Presentations on this topic at the Rivers of the World Forum:



  • Rivers of the World Atlas
  • Informatie.binnenvaart.nl
  • CREATING Final Activity Report