Inland navigation cannot be a competitive mode of transport without a well-developed network of ports and terminals. After all, ports and terminals are the hubs, on which barges get loaded and unloaded. Especially due to the increase in multimodal transport, it is therefore necessary for inland navigation to have access to a good network of (inland) ports and terminals. In such a network, the location of the ports and terminals is important, as well as the combination and connection with industrial sites.
Also seaports have advantages of a good network of hinterland connections, giving them the opportunity to reach a bigger area more easily. The main seaports in the Netherlands, the Port of Rotterdam, the Port of Amsterdam and Zeeland Seaports, are aware of the importance of a well-developed network of inland ports and terminals in the hinterland and understand that they have also a responsibility in developing such a network. In order to contribute to the establishment of such a network, the Port of Rotterdam plays its role as landlord also in the hinterland (e.g. the newly constructed inland terminal in Alphen aan den Rijn, Alpherium).
Furthermore, inland ports contribute to the development of regional economies. In the study 'Blue ports; Economic Importance of multimodal inland ports in the Netherlands' from 2004, the importance of inland ports on regional economies has been concluded, providing direct employment opportunities of over 66,000 jobs, a direct added value of 5.7 billion euro and a direct and indirect backwards added value of 8.9 billion euro. For municipalities and regional governments, it is therefore important to invest in the development of inland ports and to stimulate the establishment of inland barge terminals.
In order to create and maintain a good network, a major challenge is to create enough handling capacity or increase the efficiency of handling for the growth in container transport.
In the Netherlands the seaports, like the Port of Rotterdam, the Port of Amsterdam and Zeeland Seaports, are mainly public or public-owned private companies, serving as a landlord of the port area. However, these organizations are aware that their role is much wider than just a landlord; they have also a role in stimulating and facilitating the development of hinterland connections. This is done by the same role as landlord in the hinterland (e.g. Port of Rotterdam at the inland terminal Alpherium), but also by traffic management.
For inland waterway transport and the development of regional economies a good network of inland ports is necessary. In the Netherlands, a study in 2004 has proven the economic importance of inland ports. Due to this importance, the then Netherlands Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management established the Quick Win-scheme.
Presentations on this topic at the Rivers of the World Forum: