• Transport volume on the traditional Rhine increased by 5.4% in 2021, and transport performance by 4.5%, compared to 2020. Coal (+28.5%), Iron ore (+15.4%) and metals (+11.9%) registered higher percentage growth rates.
• For container transport on the traditional Rhine, 1.99 million TEU were recorded in 2021. In general, container transport on the Rhine has weakened in recent years due to a combination of macroeconomic, natural and port related factors (slowdown in world trade, low water periods, congestion in seaports).
• On the Upper and Middle Danube, transport volumes were on average lower in 2021 than in 2020. An important exception was the Austrian Danube around Vienna, where considerable growth was observed. The Lower Danube region, in particular the canals connecting the Danube to the Black Sea, recorded a clear upward trend in goods transport.

 

TRANSPORT IN EUROPE AND BY COUNTRY

    SHARE OF THE COUNTRIES’ TONNES-KM (TKM) IN TOTAL TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN EUROPE (IN %)


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_atygo] and [iww_go_qnave], OECD (Switzerland and the Republic of Moldova). The share of IWT performance in Europe in 2021 for Ukraine and Italy is not available due to a delay in the publication of the data.
     

    FIGURE 1: IWT TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 AND 2021 IN MAIN EUROPEAN IWT COUNTRIES (IN MILLION TKM)


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_atygo] and [iww_go_qnave], OECD (Switzerland and the Republic of Moldova)
    The 2021 values for Ukraine and Italy are not available due to a delay in the publication of the data. Note: for UK, IWT consists in non-seagoing traffic which is taking place wholly within inland waters and seagoing traffic which crosses into inland waterways from the sea. In this figure, for the sake of consistency with the methodology used by Eurostat, only the transport performance related to the traffic taking place wholly within inland waters is reported (amounting to 56 million TKM). However, it is worth noting that most of IWT in the UK consist in seagoing traffic which crosses into inland waterways (amounting to more than 1.3 billion TKM). Overall, the IWT performance in the UK is reported to reach almost 1.4 billion TKM.

     

  • Data for Ukraine have been incorporated into the 2021 annual report. The main navigable rivers of Ukraine are the Dnieper, the Southern Bug and the Danube. From the perspective of the main territory of Ukraine, the Danube forms a border with Romania along a rather short stretch in the most south-western part of the country. The Dnieper and the Southern Bug flow through the heartland of Ukraine. All three rivers flow in the north-south direction and empty their waters into the Black Sea. However, in the current publication the IWT data for Ukraine are not available due to the consequences of the war.
  • Taking into consideration total transport performance, Rhine countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland) accounted for 81.1% of total inland waterway transport performance in the EU-27, plus Switzerland, Serbia and the Republic of Moldova. The share for Danube countries was 18.6% (excluding Ukraine).
  •  

    FIGURE 2: YEARLY INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES (IN BILLION TKM IN 2021) *


    Sources: Eurostat [iww_go_atygo] and [iww_go_qnave], OECD (Switzerland and the Republic of Moldova)
    * Data for Ukraine and Italy not available for 2021

     

  • From the total inland waterway transport performance in Europe in 2021, which amounts to around 137 billion TKM (without Ukraine), 74.4% represented transport that crossed a border in one way or another – whether it be in the form of export, import or transit traffic. Transit traffic taken separately had a share of 19.3% in 2021, and export and import traffic had a share of 27.8% and 27.3%, respectively.
  •  

    FIGURE 3: YEARLY INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN THE EU-27* (IN BILLION TKM)


    Source: Eurostat [iww_go_atygo]
    * EU-27 according to member countries in 2021

 
 

TRANSPORT BY MAIN EUROPEAN RIVER BASINS


    Sources: CCNR analysis based on Destatis, VNF, Eurostat [IWW_GO_ATYGO], UK Department of Transport
     

    RHINE BASIN

    Transport volume and transport performance on the traditional Rhine

    • Cargo transport on the traditional Rhine (from Basel to the German-Dutch border) amounted to 168.6 million tonnes in 2021, compared to 160.0 million tonnes in 2020, which represented an increase of 5.4%. The result in 2021 is still 3.2% lower than in 2019. The unfinished recovery from the Covid pandemic is also reflected in the value for transport performance in 2021, which was 6.4% lower than in 2019 (and 4.5% higher than in 2020).
    •  

      FIGURE 4: TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE ON THE TRADITIONAL RHINE (IN MILLION TKM)


      Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
       

    Transport activity at different Rhine stretches, on Rhine affluents and on canals linked to the Rhine

    • Along with the overall cargo transport on the traditional Rhine, cargo transport and vessel movements are registered at specific measurement points (locks or border points). The relevant volumes represent the transport activity only at these points and do not represent total Rhine transport. However, this approach reveals existing differences in transport intensity between different Rhine stretches, for example between the Lower and the Upper Rhine.
    •  

      TABLE 1: MEASUREMENT POINTS FOR FREIGHT TRANSPORT IN THE RHINE BASIN

      Rhine stretch or affluentMeasurement point Name Volume of transport (Mio. t) Number of cargo vessels passing 
      201920202021201920202021
      Lower RhineBorder DE/NLEmmerich141.1130.0138.1103,624102,555107,712
      Upper RhineBorder DE/FRIffezheim21.316.919.121,23621,12123,631
      Wesel-Datteln Canal *Junction with RhineWesel-Friedrichsfeld16.917.019.115,75218,08520,065
      Rhein-Herne Canal *Junction with RhineDuisburg-Meiderich14.513.213.614,84810,6511,935
      MainJunction with RhineMainz-Kostheim13.213.512.115,51916,33315,213
      MoselleJunction with RhineKoblenz9.48.19.28,8687,0558,459
      NeckarJunction with RhineMannheim-Feudenheim5.45.15.05,7536,5645,661

      Sources: German Waterway and Shipping Administration, Destatis, Moselle Commission
      * For these two canals, the source for cargo volumes is the German Statistical Office (Destatis), while for all other data in the table, the source is the German Waterway Administration.

       

    • The West German Canal network (Wesel-Datteln Canal, Rhine-Herne Canal) embraces a high volume of liquid cargo and coal transport. The chemical industry alongside the Wesel-Datteln Canal relies on its logistics intensively on this waterway, as does the energy sector (coal fired power plants). Goods transport increased by 12% on the Wesel-Datteln Canal and by 3% on the Rhine-Herne Canal.
    • The river Main relies largely on materials related to the construction sector (sands, stones, building materials) with a share of 30% in 2021. However, transport volumes on this eastern Rhine affluent decreased by 10% in 2021.
    • On the river Moselle, iron ore, coal and agribulk play a large role due to the steel production in the Saar region in Germany and the agricultural production in the region of Lorraine in France. In 2021, a strong increase in the transport of iron ore (+46%) and coal (+42%) was recorded at the lock of Koblenz, mirroring similar figures observed for the Rhine. For agribulk, the development was negative (-8%). Overall, transport of goods increased by 13% at the lock of Koblenz at the junction of the Moselle with the Rhine and by 15% at the lock of Apach (border DE/FR).9
    • While container transport has followed a growth trend on the Moselle in the last ten years, this trend weakened slightly in 2021, when 24,438 TEU were recorded at the lock of Koblenz, compared to 25,521 TEU in 2020. However, it should be noted that container transport was around 30% lower only six years before: in 2015, 16,896 TEU had been transported on the Moselle.

     
    Rhine transport by cargo segment

    • Whereas a phasing out of coal was mentioned in the annual reports of previous years and shown by the data for the time span between 2013-2020, the year 2021 saw a reversal of this trend where coal transport on the Rhine increased by 28.5% in 2021. This sharp rise stems from the high coal demand of the energy sector due to high gas prices as well as from the increased steel production. Since March 2022, the demand for steam coal (which is used in the energy sector10) is furthermore fuelled by ever rising gas prices, due to the war in Ukraine. An example for the linkages between seaborne trade and inland waterway transport is seen by the development in the Port of Amsterdam: seaborne handling of coal increased by 41% in 2021 to reach 10.4 million tonnes in 2021. The port explains this development by strongly increasing gas prices.
    • Iron ore and metals are also in recovery mode compared to 2020 and the impact of Covid. Containers, agribulk and food products, sand, stones and gravel, as well as mineral oil products and chemicals, remained at a rather stable level. Mineral oil products faced difficult framework conditions, due to the pandemic and the related reduction in mobility and demand for gasoline, diesel and kerosene.
    •  

      FIGURES 5 AND 6: GOODS TRANSPORTED ON THE TRADITIONAL RHINE BY TYPE OF GOODS (IN MILLION TONNES) *



      Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
      * For containers: net-weight

       

      TABLE 2: GOODS TRANSPORT ON THE TRADITIONAL RHINE IN TOTAL AND BY LARGEST GOODS SEGMENTS (IN MILLION TONNES) AND RATE OF CHANGE 2021/2020

      Goods segment2019202020212021/2020 in %
      Traditional Rhine in total174.1160.0168.6+5.4
      Mineral oil products30.027.627.3-1.1
      Sands, stones, gravel28.626.225.8-1.5
      Chemicals20.119.319.6+1.6
      Iron ore21.618.521.4+15.7
      Agribulk, food products15.717.417.0-2.3
      Coal22.417.122.0+28.6
      Goods in containers15.215.014.9-0.6
      Metals9.38.08.9+11.2

      Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
       

    Container transport on the Rhine

    • Container transport on the traditional Rhine reached 1.99 million TEU in 2021, which was 0.9% higher than in 2020. Compared to 2019 – the pre-Covid year – the result was still 2.8% lower. When comparing data for the period between 2014 and 2017 with data for the period 2018-2021, it becomes obvious that TEU volumes in the more recent period settled on a lower average level. This is due to several reasons:11
      – World trade and exports of goods from Europe to overseas were upward orientated until 2017, but stagnated in 2018 and 2019, before decreasing abruptly in 2020 due to the pandemic.
      – The low water year of 2018 inflicted losses of cargo and provoked a modal shift from Rhine to railway transport.
      – Inland container barging suffered also under congestion in seaports and related delays.
    •  

      FIGURE 7: CONTAINER TRANSPORT ON THE TRADITIONAL RHINE (IN MILLION TEU), 2009-2021


      Source: Destatis
       

      FIGURE 8: CONTAINER TRANSPORT ON THE TRADITIONAL RHINE (IN MILLION TONNES, NET WEIGHT OF GOODS IN CONTAINERS), 2009-2021


      Source: Destatis
       

    • The downstream direction (from south to north) shows a higher share of containers that are loaded with cargo than in the upstream direction. This reflects the export of goods from the Rhine hinterland (in France, Germany, Switzerland) towards ARA seaports in Belgium and in the Netherlands, and further to world markets overseas. Containers transported upstream are more often empty. The reason is that empty containers need to be delivered back to the hinterland in order to be re-filled with goods for export.
    • The comparison between 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021 reveals the reduction in the export of goods via the Rhine, visualised by a decrease from 1.010 million TEU (see the bar ‘Downstream’/‘Loaded’) in 2017 down to 0.897 million TEU in 2021. The reasons are the above-mentioned factors (impact of low waters in 2018, slowdown in the economy, reversed modal shift from Rhine to rail).
    •  

      FIGURES 9, 10, 11, 12: CONTAINER TRANSPORT ON THE TRADITIONAL RHINE, DOWNSTREAM VERSUS UPSTREAM TRAFFIC AND LOADED VERSUS EMPTY CONTAINERS (IN 1,000 TEU)





      Source: CCNR analysis based on Destatis
       

    DANUBE BASIN

    Transport volume and transport performance on the Danube

    • Cargo transport on the entire navigable Danube between Kelheim (Germany) and the Black Sea via the Danube-Black Sea Canal and the Sulina Canal) lies in the range between 36 and 40 million tonnes per year.12 Transport performance on the Danube (EU Danube countries plus Serbia) reached 29.8 billion TKM in 2021, which was at the same level as in 2020.
    •  

      FIGURE 13: TRANSPORT PERFORMANCE IN FREIGHT TRANSPORT ON THE DANUBE *


      Sources: Eurostat [IWW_GO_ATYGO] and [IWW_GO_QNAVE] (Serbia)
      * Transport performance in IWT in all EU Danube countries plus Serbia. Data for Serbia available since 2018

       

    Danube transport at specific measurement points

    • The market observation system used for observing Danube cargo transport at certain measurement points is similar to the system in the Rhine basin. The waterway administrations register data at certain borders or measurement points which are described for the Danube in the table below.
    •  

      TABLE 3: MEASUREMENT POINTS FOR DANUBE FREIGHT TRANSPORT

      Rhine stretch or affluentMeasurement point Name  Volume of transport (Mio. T) 
      201920202021
      Upper DanubeBorder Germany/AustriaLock of Jochenstein3.32.32.2
      Upper DanubeViennaLock of Wien-Freudenau6.96.27.1
      Upper DanubeBorder Slovakia/HungaryLock of Gabčíkovo5.85.04.9
      Middle DanubeBorder Hungary/Croatia/SerbiaMohács5.66.15.8
      Danube-Black Sea CanalNo specific point, total volumes on the canal are taken into accountCanal authority CAN1316.716.517.3
      Sulina CanalNo specific point, total volumes on the canal are taken into accountWaterway Administration AFDJ145.54.55.1

      Source: Danube Commission market observation
       

    • On the Danube, and in particular on the Lower and Middle Danube, transport by pushed convoys accounts for high shares within total goods transport. At the measurement point of Mohács on the Middle Danube, pushed convoys transported 78.0% of all cargo in 2021, compared to 75.7% in 2020, 79.5% in 2019 and 78.7% in 2018.
    • Due to the high water depths in the lower Danube section, in particular in the Danube delta region (also known as ‘maritime Danube’), cargo transport in the lower Danube area attains much higher values than on river sections further upstream.
    • This is notably the case for the Danube-Black Sea Canal, running from Cernavodă on the Danube River to Constanţa at the Black Sea (southern arm) and to Năvodari (northern arm) at the Black Sea. In 2021, this canal had a transport volume of 17.3 million tonnes (an increase of 4.7% compared to 2020). Another estuary arm is the Sulina Canal, which flows into the Black Sea in the Danube delta region near the Romanian-Ukrainian border.

     
    Danube transport by cargo segment

    • In 2021, iron ores accounted for the highest transport volume on the Middle Danube, before agribulk. Compared to the year 2020, steel production in the Danube region recovered in 2021 from the Covid pandemic (see Chapter 9). However, iron ore transport did not reach the transport volumes that were observed in 2019, which is explained by a low water situation in the last quarter of 2021.
    • The agricultural segment stands on the second rank behind iron ore. Its transport demand is quite volatile, due to variations in harvest volumes from one year to another, but also due to the competition between different harvesting regions (Middle Danube region versus Black Sea region). This competition is often related to prices. In the third quarter of 2021, the Black Sea region gained market shares in the export of grain to North Africa and other parts of the world, to the detriment of the Middle Danube region. This led to a lower transport volume of grain on the Danube, between the Middle Danube region and the seaport of Constanţa. In 2022, due to the war in Ukraine, the situation is expected to be different (see Chapter 9).
    •  

      FIGURE 14: GOODS TRANSPORT ON THE MIDDLE DANUBE (IN MILLION TONNES) *


      Source: Danube Commission market observation
      * At Mohács (southern Hungary – border area with Croatia and Serbia)

       

    • On the Upper and Middle Danube, iron ore is entirely transported upstream, while grain, food products and foodstuff are entirely transported downstream. The first point reflects the provision of the steel industry in Austria, Hungary and Serbia with raw materials, while the second point reflects the export of agricultural products from Hungary and Serbia downstream to the seaports, mainly to Constanţa.

 
 

CONTAINER TRANSPORT PER COUNTRY IN EUROPE

    THE WHOLE EUROPE AND GEOGRAPHICAL STRUCTURE

    • With 13 billion TKM, more than 7 million TEU and more than 62 million tonnes of cargo in containers, container transport on EU inland waterways represents 9.6% of the total IWW transport performance of 136 billion TKM in the EU. Moreover, 99.95% of the container transport performance (TKM) takes place in Rhine countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg). Container transport on the Danube accounts for the remaining 0.05%.

    RHINE COUNTRIES

    • In 2021, container transport measured in TEU progressed by 4.8% in the Netherlands, by 2.4% in Germany, by 1.5% in Belgium and by 31.1% in France. In the Netherlands, 53.1 million tonnes of cargo were transported in containers (+2.2% compared to 2021), making this country the frontrunner in inland waterway container transport in Europe.
    • Container transport by inland navigation is expanding in the Netherlands due to an intensification of container traffic on existing routes, for example between the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp. Secondly, the establishment of new container ports and new terminals, such as in Bergen op Zoom in the Netherlands, also fuels this growth.15
    •  

      FIGURE 15: IWW CONTAINER TRANSPORT PER COUNTRY IN EUROPE (IN MILLION TEU) *


      Source: Eurostat [iww_go_actygo]
      * in Luxembourg, 17,436 TEU were recorded for 2020, but 2021 data were not yet available due to delays in data dissemination.

       

    DANUBE COUNTRIES

    • The two Danube countries with the highest container transport are currently Hungary and Austria. In 2021, 7,297 TEU were transported on Hungarian inland waterways, which was the second highest value in the period between 2007 and 2021. In Austria, container transported amounted to 5,226 TEU in 2021, which was also an increase compared to 2018, 2019 and 2020.
    • Considering the weight of cargo, container transport on Hungarian waterways represented 14 thousand tonnes in 2021. In Austria, 9 thousand tonnes of cargo were transported in containers. These values illustrate the immense gap for Rhine countries. In the Netherlands, 53.1 million tonnes were transported in containers on inland waterways in 2021, 22.4 million tonnes in Belgium, 20.9 million tonnes in Germany and 3.3 million tonnes in France.
    • Container transport in Romania reached 1,714 TEU in 2021. Over the last 15 years, no upward movement has been observed, and with a strong decline in 2013, this has more or less remained at a low level since then.

     
     

    INLAND NAVIGATION AND OTHER MODES OF TRANSPORT

      FIGURE 16: MODAL SPLIT SHARE OF INLAND TRANSPORT MODES IN THE EU-27 (IN %) 2009-2020


      Source : Eurostat [tran_hv_frmod]
       

    • Over the last decade, modal split shares have remained rather stable. The modal split of IWT at the level of the EU-27 was 5.8% in 2020 and thus behind road transport (77.4%) and rail transport (16.8%). Both rail and inland waterway transport lost shares for the benefit of road transport in 2020. The share of rail transport decreased by almost 1 percentage point. As many EU countries do not have inland waterways, the overall modal split of IWT at the EU level should not be used as a performance indicator for the success of inland waterway transport in the EU.
    • In order to measure the success of IWT in the transport market, it is better to look at the modal split evolution of IWT in countries where there is a sufficiently dense inland waterway network, such as in the Netherlands, Belgium or Germany, or where inland navigation has traditionally been important for goods transport, as in many Danube countries.
    •  

      FIGURES 17 AND 18: IWW MODAL SPLIT EVOLUTION IN RHINE AND DANUBE COUNTRIES (IN %, BASED ON TONNE-KILOMETRES) *



      Source: Eurostat [tran_hv_frmod]
      * Share of inland waterway transport performance in total (IWT + Road + Rail) transport performance

       

    • The IWW modal split in EU countries shows varying trends. In the Netherlands, the IWW modal split increased between 2009 and 2012, to reach a peak at 47.2%. It decreased in the years thereafter, reaching 41.6% in 2020. The reduction in coal transport, which began in 2015, and the low water periods in 2015, 2017 and 2018, can explain the main parts of this downward trend.16 Such a downward trend is also visible in Belgium, Germany and France. In Luxembourg, the modal split of IWT has increased in recent years and remained the same in 2019 and 2020 (8.2%). Within Danube countries, Romania and Bulgaria record high IWT modal shares, in 2020 reaching respectively 28.6% and 28.7%. For the latter, a decrease of 3 percentage points between 2019 and 2020 is however observed.