• The first half of 2022 registered a 2.8% decrease in European inland waterway freight transport performance, compared to the same period in 2021.
• After the modest recovery registered at the beginning of 2022, the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine caused a decline in cargo transport on the Rhine for almost all cargo segments, especially for the transport of sand, stones and gravel. The exception was coal transport, which increased by 25.7%. The war also considerably impacted freight transport on the Danube, especially grain transport on the Middle Danube.
• Passenger transport on the Rhine and the Danube showed a strong recovery in the first semester of 2022, which led the sector to its pre-pandemic levels, at least for vessel movements.
FREIGHT TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN EUROPE
- In the first semester of 2022, cargo transport on the traditional Rhine amounted to 84.7 million tonnes which represented -1.7% compared to the same period in 2021. After the two-year period of Covid-19, cargo transport experienced a small recovery at the very beginning of 2022. Nevertheless, Rhine transport started to decrease again due to the Russian war against Ukraine which began in February 2022. The main reasons were the supply side shortages for commodities, industrial input factors and energy. The only exception was coal transport, which went up by 25.7% due to the need to substitute gas in the energy sector. An example for the impact of shortages in input factors due to the war is the segment of sand, stones and gravel which declined by 12.5% in the first semester of 2022. The increase of the European Central Bank’s short term interest rates should have further negative impacts on this particular market.
- The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine considerably impacted freight transport on the Danube in the first semester of 2022. Due to the absence of maritime grain exports because of the blockage of the Ukrainian seaports,2 grain was partly exported from Ukraine via Lower Danube ports, leading to more grain transport in the Lower Danube section. On the Middle Danube, however, grain and foodstuff particularly suffered from this exceptional situation and diminished respectively by 63% and 75% in comparison with the first semester of 2021. This is because Middle Danube countries, in particular Hungary and Serbia, imposed restrictions on exports of agricultural and food products in order to accumulate national stocks at the very beginning of the war. This phenomenon is known in economics as ‘hoarding effect’3 and explains the low results of the first semester 2022.
TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN IWT ON THE NATIONAL TERRITORY OF EACH COUNTRY IN EUROPE – COMPARISON BETWEEN Q1+Q2 2021 AND Q1+Q2 2022 (IN MILLION TKM)*
Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave], OECD (Republic of Moldova, Lithuania, Switzerland, Ukraine). For Belgium, own calculation based on data from De Vlaamse Waterweg and Service public de Wallonie.
* For the UK and Italy, data are not available on a quarterly basis. For Ukraine, data for Q1+Q2 2022 were not available. The Danube Commission reported an increase of 234% in terms of waterside cargo transported in Ukrainian ports in Q1+Q2 2022 compared to same period in 2021. It is assumed that this increase is linked with the ‘Solidarity Lanes’ initiative. For Sweden, data are available only from Q1 2022 onwards. Therefore, a rate of change could not be calculated. Only the transport performance could be shown.
TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN MAIN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES
FIGURE 1a: INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT PERORMANCE IN MAIN WESTERN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES (IN MILLION TKM, QUARTERLY DATA OF TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE ON THE NATIONAL TERRITORY OF EACH COUNTRY)
Source: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave] and own calculation for Belgium, based on data from De Vlaamse Waterweg and SPW Service public de Wallonie
Due to a structural break in the data from the Belgian statistical office between Q4 2017 and Q1 2018, data for Belgium from this quarter onwards were recalculated. This was done by applying the rates of change present in the data from the Flemish and the Wallonian waterway administrations.1
FIGURE 1b: INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN MAIN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES (IN MILLION TKM, QUARTERLY DATA OF TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE ON THE NATIONAL TERRITORY OF EACH COUNTRY)
Source: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave]
DRY BULK, LIQUID BULK AND CONTAINER TRANSPORT IN MAIN IWT COUNTRIES AND REGIONS
FIGURE 2: DRY CARGO TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)
FIGURE 3: LIQUID CARGO TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)
FIGURE 4: 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
Notes: Traditional Rhine = Rhine from Rheinfelden (CH) to German-Dutch border. For Belgium-Wallonia, quarterly 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.
RHINE AND DANUBE NAVIGATION
FIGURE 5: TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE ON THE RHINE AND THE DANUBE PER QUARTER (IN MILLION TKM)
Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave], Destatis (Rhine and affluents)
* Traditional Rhine = Rhine from Rheinfelden (CH) to German-Dutch border
** Danube = TKM in all Danube countries but without Ukraine
FIGURES 6 AND 7: RHINE TRANSPORT VOLUME UPSTREAM AND DOWNSTREAM FOR MAJOR CARGO SEGMENTS (IN MILLION TONNES, FOR Q1-Q2 OF 2021 AND 2022)
Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
FIGURES 8 AND 9: MIDDLE DANUBE TRANSPORT VOLUME UPSTREAM AND DOWNSTREAM FOR THE MAJOR CARGO SEGMENTS (IN MILLION TONNES, FOR Q1-Q2 OF 2021 AND 2022) *
Source: Danube Commission market observation report
* Detailed data according to goods segment and quarters are only available for the Middle Danube at Mohacs.
PASSENGER TRANSPORT IN EUROPE
- Passenger transport was highly impacted by the Covid-19 crisis in 2020 and only began to recover in the second semester of 2021 for both the Rhine and the Danube. The Danube, as well as the Rhine and its Moselle, Main, Neckar and Saar affluents, are important operating areas for river cruises in Europe, next to the Seine, Rhône and Douro.
- A statistical measurement point for cruise vessels on the Rhine is the lock of Iffezheim on the Upper Rhine.
- The pre-pandemic levels were recovered in the first semester 2022 with 1,089 cruise vessels which passed through the lock of Iffezheim. In comparison, in the same period in 2019 and 2021, there were respectively 1,078 and 55 cruise vessels which passed through this lock.
Moreover, the figures of April to June 2019 and 2022 show that passenger transport demand has considerably increased compared to the 2013-2018 period.
- For the Danube, data are available for the lock of Jochenstein near Passau. Alongside Vienna and Budapest, Passau is an important place where cruise vessels both start and finish their journey.
- The strong recovery of the first half-year of 2022 is also well illustrated for the Upper Danube in Figure 11 and suggests a positive development for the second half-year. Indeed, values similar to pre-pandemic levels can be observed from the very beginning of 2022. A comparison between the 2013-2018 period and the years 2019 and 2022 suggests a constant demand for passenger transport on the Upper Danube.
- In both cases, it is important to note that the utilisation rate of the river cruise vessels passing the locks is also a key indicator when it comes to assessing the recovery of the river cruise sector. For the year 2022, however, the river cruise sector still reported about lower utilisation rates of cruise vessels compared to the pre-pandemic levels.
FIGURE 10: NUMBER OF RIVER CRUISE VESSELS PASSING THE LOCK OF IFFEZHEIM ON THE UPPER RHINE IN THE FIRST HALF YEAR PER MONTH
Source: German Waterway and Shipping Administration
FIGURE 11: NUMBER OF RIVER CRUISE VESSELS PASSING THROUGH THE LOCK OF JOCHENSTEIN NEAR PASSAU ON THE UPPER DANUBE IN THE FIRST HALF YEAR PER MONTH
Source: German Waterway and Shipping Administration