• Transport performance (TKM) on inland waterways in Europe (EU plus Switzerland, Serbia and Ukraine) increased by 4.0% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. For the different cargo segments transported on the Rhine, dry cargo saw an increase, whereas liquid cargo was slightly weaker in Q1 2021.
• Passenger transport, and more precisely river cruises, are struggling to recover with a continuous low level of cruise vessel traffic on the Upper Rhine (lock of Iffezheim). The number of vessels passing this lock dropped by 12.7% in the first half year of 2021 compared to the same period the previous year. The gap in (Q1+Q2) 2021 compared to (Q1+Q2) 2019 amounts to 94.9%.
TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN EUROPE
- After a period of decreasing transport performance (low waters in 2018, macroeconomic weakness in 2019, Covid crisis in 2020), cargo transport on the Rhine and on Dutch waterways started to recover between Q3 2020 and Q1 2021. More recent data (for the lock of Iffezheim on the Upper Rhine) point to an increase of 4.7% in transport volume during the first eight months of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020. However, the difference compared to the level in the first eight months of 2019 was still 6.9%.
- While transport performance in Belgium and France was rather constant, with some fluctuations, Danube navigation continued its upward trend.
- Cargo transport on the traditional Rhine amounted to 42.7 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 42.5 million tonnes in the same quarter the previous year. The comparison shows that dry cargo had higher volumes in Q1 2021 than in Q1 2020, while liquid cargo (in particular petroleum products) had lower volumes.
- These differences can be explained by the recovery of steel production and the increase of steam coal demand (because of high gas prices) in 2021, and the related increase in dry cargo transport of iron ore, coking coal and steam coal. Steel production in Germany was 15% higher in the first five months of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020. The drop in petroleum products is explained by a reduced mobility due to the pandemic. The future will show if this could become a structural phenomenon.
- Iron ore transport on the Middle Danube increased slightly in Q1 2021, reflecting also the recovery in the steel market which is relevant both for Rhine and Danube navigation. Furthermore, the upward trend in grain transport that occurred in 2020 continued on the Danube also in 2021.
- A certain balance of freight transport on the Danube was ensured by the transportation of significant volumes of grain from the ports of the Middle Danube in direction of the port of Constanța. At the same time, the cargo turnover of the port of Constanța by river traffic amounted to 4.1 million tonnes in Q1 2021, which was 15.3% higher than in Q1 2020. Accordingly, the transport volume on the Danube-Black Sea canal amounted to 4.37 million tonnes, which was 12.3% more than in Q1 2020.
TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN IWT ON THE NATIONAL TERRITORY OF EACH COUNTRY IN EUROPE – COMPARISON BETWEEN Q1 2020 AND Q1 2021 (IN MILLION TKM) *
Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave], OECD (Switzerland, Serbia, Ukraine)
* For the UK, data were not available.
FIGURE 1: INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT (IWT) PERFORMANCE IN EUROPE BY REGION AND QUARTER (IN MILLION TKM)
Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave], OECD (Ukraine), Destatis (Rhine and affluents)
* Danube = TKM in all Danube countries including Ukraine
RHINE AND DANUBE NAVIGATION PER CARGO SEGMENT
FIGURES 2 AND 3: RHINE TRANSPORT VOLUME UPSTREAM AND DOWNSTREAM FOR MAJOR CARGO SEGMENTS (IN MILLION TONNES, FOR THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF 2020 AND 2021)
Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
FIGURES 4 AND 5: MIDDLE DANUBE TRANSPORT VOLUME UPSTREAM AND DOWNSTREAM FOR THE MAJOR CARGO SEGMENTS (IN MILLION TONNES, FOR THE FIRST THREE MONTHS OF 2020 AND 2021) *
Source: Danube Commission market observation report
* On the Middle Danube at Mohács
- The number of cruise vessels passing the lock of Iffezheim at the Upper Rhine is chosen as an indicator for passenger transport. Data on cruise vessels on the Rhine are an important indicator for the European cruise sector, as the Rhine enjoys the second highest cruising figures in Europe after the Danube.
- In the second half of 2020, cruising partly recovered, in parallel with a partial termination of lockdown rules. In the first half of 2021, however, figures dropped again to very low levels.
- At the time of writing the report, figures were available until the month of August 2021. In this month, the number of cruise vessels passing the lock of Iffezheim increased sharply. However, it is far too early to consider this as a definite recovery in this market segment. Several indicators show that the pandemic is not yet over, so that a rebound of the crisis cannot be ruled out.
- In June 2021, a number of cruise vessel voyages took place on the Danube, operating to begin with at an average number of 115-125 passengers. In total, 13 vessel passages took place on the Upper Danube in June and 1,700 passengers were transported. In July the number of passages increased to 148, and in August to 330. At the same time, passenger transportation was renewed in the direction of the Danube Delta.
FIGURE 6: NUMBER OF RIVER CRUISE VESSELS PASSING THE LOCK OF IFFEZHEIM AT THE UPPER RHINE PER HALF YEAR (FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR 2021, DATA WERE NOT AVAILABLE)
Source: German Waterway and Shipping Administration
FIGURE 7: NUMBER OF RIVER CRUISE VESSELS PASSING THE LOCK OF IFFEZHEIM AT THE UPPER RHINE PER MONTH
Source: German Waterway and Shipping Administration
TRANSPORT VOLUME IN MAIN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES
FIGURE 8: INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT VOLUME IN MAIN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES (IN MILLION TONNES, QUARTERLY DATA OF TRANSPORT VOLUME ON THE NATIONAL TERRITORY OF EACH COUNTRY)
Source: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave]
Due to a lack of plausibility of Stat.Bel data as from Q1 2018, the data for Belgium from this quarter onwards were recalculated. This was done by applying the rate of change that is present in the more plausible data from the Flemish waterway administration (De Vlaamse Waterweg). The series for Belgium then follows the trend for Flanders, but is located on a higher level.
DRY BULK, LIQUID BULK AND CONTAINER TRANSPORT
FIGURE 9: DRY CARGO TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)
FIGURE 10: LIQUID CARGO TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)
FIGURE 11: CONTAINER TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)
Sources: Eurostat [IWW_GO_QCNAVE], Destatis. Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek, De Vlaamse Waterweg, SPW Service Public de Wallonie, Voies Navigables de France, Romanian Institute of Statistics
Note: For Belgium-Wallonia, infra-annual container statistics in tonnes are not available. The product group “machines/other goods” was assumed to consist mainly of container transport. The data contain total IWT on the territory of the country/region.