• Transport performance on inland waterways in the EU increased by 4.3% in the first half year of 2021, compared to the same period one year earlier. The recovery was mainly driven by the dry cargo sector.
• Passenger transport started to recover only in the second half of 2021. However, the number of passengers, and therefore the capacity utilisation of the cruise vessels, remained rather low.

 

FREIGHT TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN EUROPE

    TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN IWT ON THE NATIONAL TERRITORY OF EACH COUNTRY IN EUROPE – COMPARISON BETWEEN Q1+Q2 2020 AND Q1+Q2 2021 (IN MILLION TKM)*


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave], OECD (Republic of Moldova, Switzerland, Ukraine)
    * For the UK, data were not available.

     

    FIGURE 1: INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT (IWT) PERFORMANCE IN EUROPE BY REGION AND QUARTER (IN MILLION TKM)

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    Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_qnave], OECD (Ukraine), Destatis (Rhine and affluents)
    * Danube = TKM in all Danube countries including Ukraine

     

  • The transport performance illustrated in figure 1 shows a steady recovery trend for inland waterway freight transport in Europe, starting in Q3 2020. A weakening in this upward trend occurred in Q3 2021, which can be attributed to floodings in the Rhine region. This period of high water was followed by a period of low water in Q4 2021.
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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 Q1-Q3 OF 2020 AND 2021)

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    Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
     

  • Cargo transport on the traditional Rhine amounted to 126.4 million tonnes in the first nine months of 2021, compared to 118.1 million tonnes in the same period in the previous year. This implies an increase of 7.0%. Dry cargo and container transport recorded higher volumes (+10.4% and +3.7% respectively) while liquid cargo remained rather stable. Coal transport benefited from high gas prices throughout the year 2021. Overall, the demand for dry cargo ship capacity was rather high in the second half of 2021.
  • For the lock of Iffezheim on the Upper Rhine, data were already available for the entire year 2021. They also indicate an uptake in the first nine months (by 6.0%), but a ‘melting down’ of the latter due to low waters in Q4 2021. For the entire year 2021, cargo volumes remained stable at this lock, which can be regarded as a likely indication also for the entire traditional Rhine for 2021.
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    FIGURES 4 AND 5: MIDDLE DANUBE TRANSPORT VOLUME UPSTREAM AND DOWNSTREAM FOR THE MAJOR CARGO SEGMENTS (IN MILLION TONNES, FOR Q1-Q3 OF 2020 AND 2021)*

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    Source: Danube Commission market observation report
    * Detailed data according to goods segment and quarters are only available for the Middle Danube at Mohács.

     

  • On the Danube, iron ore transport also benefited from higher steel production. The increase in the first three quarters of 2021, compared to the same period in 2020, amounts to 6.8%. However, looking at monthly figures for iron ore, it is seen that this commodity lost about 18-20% of transport volume in August and September 2021 due to a lower available draught of pushed convoys.
  • The agricultural segment of grain follows a rather volatile transport demand on the Danube in general. Whereas grain transport was boosted by good harvests in 2020, it decreased in 2021. There are two main reasons for this. The primary reason lies in developments on the European grain export market. A secondary reason is the start of the above-mentioned low water period.
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PASSENGER TRANSPORT IN EUROPE

  • 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. The Danube alone accounted for around 40% of the European market in terms of the number of cruise passengers (without rivers in Russia and Ukraine) in 2019. Together with the Rhine and Moselle, Main, Neckar, Saar, this share amounted to around 80-85%.1
  • A statistical measurement point for cruise vessels on the Rhine is the lock of Iffezheim on the Upper Rhine.
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    FIGURE 6: NUMBER OF RIVER CRUISE VESSELS PASSING THE LOCK OF IFFEZHEIM ON THE UPPER RHINE PER HALF YEAR

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    Source: German Waterway and Shipping Administration
     

    FIGURE 7: NUMBER OF RIVER CRUISE VESSELS PASSING THE LOCK OF IFFEZHEIM ON THE UPPER RHINE PER MONTH

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    Source: German Waterway and Shipping Administration
     

  • When analysing monthly and half-year figures for 2020 and 2021, it is seen that the ongoing recovery in the cruise sector is concentrated entirely during the period between July and October. The important spring season could not unfold any activity in 2020 and 2021.
  • For the Danube, data are available for the lock of Jochenstein near Passau and the lock of Gabčikovo near Bratislava. The latter is located on the border between Slovakia and Hungary. It is also situated between Vienna and Budapest. Therefore, the passing cruise vessels reflect the cruising activity between two important destinations within the European river cruise sector. Next to Vienna and Budapest, Passau is also an important place where cruise vessels both start and finish their journey.
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    FIGURE 8: NUMBER OF RIVER CRUISE VESSELS PASSING THROUGH THE LOCK OF JOCHENSTEIN NEAR PASSAU ON THE UPPER DANUBE PER MONTH

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    Source: German Waterway and Shipping Administration
     

  • In 2019, 3,668 cruise vessels passed through the lock of Jochenstein, with a total of 512,458 passengers on board. In 2020, the respective numbers were 324 vessel transits and 25,160 passengers.
  • In 2021, a recovery was seen, with 1,255 cruise vessels and 107,727 passengers.
  • Data for the lock of Gabčikovo show a recovery in the number of passengers for the first three quarters of 2021 compared to 2020, of 77.4%. However, the activity in 2021 still lies at 63.9% below pre-pandemic levels. In total numbers, 98,000 passengers on cruise vessels were counted at this border point in (Q1+Q2+Q3) 2021, compared to 55,000 in (Q1+Q2+Q3) 2020, and 568,000 passengers in (Q1+Q2+Q3) 2019. In the whole year of 2019, 720,800 passengers were counted at Gabčikovo.
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TRANSPORT VOLUME IN MAIN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES

    FIGURE 9: INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT VOLUME IN MAIN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES (IN MILLION TONNES, QUARTERLY DATA OF TRANSPORT VOLUME ON THE NATIONAL TERRITORY OF EACH COUNTRY)

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    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. Compared to previous editions, it was decided to add Serbia, due to high IWT volumes in this country in recent times.

 
 

DRY BULK, LIQUID BULK AND CONTAINER TRANSPORT IN MAIN IWT COUNTRIES AND REGIONS

    FIGURE 10: DRY CARGO TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)

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    FIGURE 11: LIQUID CARGO TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)

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    Chart by Visualizer

     

    FIGURE 12: CONTAINER TRANSPORT (IN MILLION TONNES)

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    Chart by Visualizer

    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.