- Transport performance (TKM) on inland waterways in the EU decreased by 8.1% in the first three quarters of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. In the two largest inland waterways transport (IWT) countries there was a decrease of -11.9% (Germany) and -6.8% (the Netherlands). In the Danube countries, transport performance was 9% lower. Overall, these rates of change were less negative than had been expected in early 2020 when the pandemic broke out.
- For the Rhine, a decrease of 11% is observed. The differentiation of transport demand by type of cargo reveals the following: In the first three quarters of 2020, dry cargo transport on the Rhine decreased by 13%, liquid cargo transport by 7% and container transport by 5%. The transport demand related to the steel industry represents 25% of total Rhine transport and suffered heavily from the pandemic, which explains the sharp decrease in dry cargo transport. In the Netherlands, the reduction was 6% for dry cargo transport, 3% for liquid cargo transport, while container transport increased by 2%. Container transport also recorded higher levels in Belgium, compared to the first three quarters of 2019.
- For passenger transport, the initial loss estimations were confirmed by the developments in 2020. As expected in early 2020, the activity in passenger transport collapsed almost entirely in 2020. A reduction of 90-95% in the number of passengers is observed for river cruising.
- With the drop in oil prices due to the pandemic, fuel prices (gasoil/diesel) fell by 32% between Q1 2020 and Q2 2020. Between Q2 and Q3 they rose again (by 17%), in parallel with the partial reopening of the European economies. Between Q3 and Q4, fuel prices dropped by 3%. In 2021, fuel prices in IWT are expected to increase by 5-7%, in parallel with oil prices, for which different forecasts point to a limited uptake.
- Other costs in inland navigation are expected to increase to a limited extent in 2021, with the only exception being capital costs, where a reduction of interest rates and insurance values of ships should lead to a decrease.
- A special chapter of the report is dedicated to France, where sands, stones and building materials represent the largest cargo segment. Its transport performance follows a positive trend. The segment was affected by the Covid-19 crisis in March and April 2020, but transport performance recovered in the course of May and June back to pre-crisis levels. Agricultural products are the second largest cargo segment in France and its transport demand is closely associated with harvest results. After a good harvest season in 2019, the 2020 season was somewhat weak, which will have a negative effect on the transport of grain in 2021.