Safety / Security

With an increased attention paid to safety and security, it is important that inland navigation maintains its position as one of the safest modes of transport. Transport over water accounts for an important share of hazardous goods transport in the Netherlands, 80% of the hazardous goods transport is done by inland shipping. This is a core value of the Dutch inland navigation sector that is being preserved and increased where possible. To maintain the position as one of the safest means, inland navigation should develop itself more and more.

To maintain these high standards, there is an extensive system of (also international) regulations for the safety requirements for ships. There are training requirements for crews, regulations on the size of the crew and regulations for water traffic. These regulations are traditionally aimed mostly at the technical aspects of safety. There is also a good awareness of safety in the inland navigation sector, as well as high quality traffic guidance in major ports and at shipping nodes.

Due to recent developments, there is also an increased attention paid to security. As part of the security policy, it is important to assess the security risks and avoid unnecessary high security risks. Also in (inland) shipping, interest has been paid to security, resulting in international security certification.



Dangerous cargo

In the Netherlands, most hazardous materials are transported by pipeline. Inland shipping is now additionally setting the trends in the safe transport of hazardous materials. A large proportion of the transport of hazardous materials takes places by water. This is much safer than by train or truck, because these types of transport often have to travel through urban areas in order to reach their destination. Inland navigation becomes also safer, because more and more often, tank vessels are fitted with double hulls and have to meet stringent requirements.

Approximately 61 million tonnes of dangerous goods are transported on inland waterways each year. More than 80% of dangerous goods not carried by pipelines are transported by water, the majority of which are combustible fluids, which are almost always transported in tankers. The remaining goods are chemicals and waste materials.


Safety inspection

The Transport and Water Management Inspectorate monitors whether the transport of dangerous goods over inland waterways by river vessels satisfies the provisions stipulated in the Carriage of Dangerous Goods Act. Every year, several hundred inspections are carried out, both on the water and the quayside, as well as company inspections throughout the country. The Transport and Water Management Inspectorate increasingly conducts thematic inspections derived from risk analyses already made. A-selective inspections will also remain in place in the future. The Inspectorate's authority is far-reaching; they can suspend transportation until infringements have been removed (administrative enforcement) and impose an order for periodic penalty payments. They work closely with the Seaport Police, the National Police Agency water police and the Directorate General for Public Works and Water Management in overseeing the safe transport of dangerous goods. Actions are co-ordinated (including annual plans and theme activities) in consultation with the other enforcement partners. 



Security is becoming more and more important. Internationally, regulations have been created to secure aviation, shipping and maritime ports. As the logistical centre of Europe, the Netherlands acts as an axis in international transport and overseas trade. This means that other countries and international business rely on the Netherlands to have good security. Although introducing security measures implies an effort for all parties involved, an appropriate level of security is also a quality element in retaining transport streams or attracting additional streams. Although there is no international security regime for inland transport from maritime ports, more and more logistical service providers are seeing security in the supply chain as a mark of quality and an opportunity to benefit from facilities, such as in security checks. The inland navigation sector is therefore increasingly aware that reinforcing security as a competence can bring both competitive and operational advantages.


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



  • Rivers of the World Atlas, 2010