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Inland navigation and sustainable development : analysis of factors that increase its market RDA

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Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Waterborne icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

It is well known that the inland navigation generates less negative impacts in term of congestion, safety and environmental pollution than the road. It is thus important to understand what are the main barriers which hinder a shifting of cargo from the road to the waterway on the Belgian network where very specific economic, administrative, organisational, political and infrastructural conditions are existing In order to prevent that traffic becomes a barrier to the socio-economic development, it is absolutely necessary to look for transport alternatives. Mainly, for good flows, inland waterway mode, with its considerably high amount of free capacities, appears to be such a possibility. For ecological, safety and economical reasons, inland waterways could contribute to a sustainable solution, reducing the present and future road traffic problems.


A more intensive economical and ecological integration of the environment friendly transport modes, rail and inland navigation, turns out to be an important political target. But up to now, a shifting of cargo to inland waterways has taken place to a very limited extend only. On the contrary, many shippers and forwarding agents do still prefer trucks, though this traffic mode has meanwhile reached its capacity limits on a plenty of transport routes.


The main objective of this research study is to identify the main factors and their influence for a more intensive use and integration of inland waterways in transport chains.


WP1 Shifting possibilities

1.1 Analysis of Cargo Volume - regions - commodity groups - distances

1.2 Shifting Potential - compatibility within the waterway network - distance of transport - time demand

1.3 Comparison of Shifting Potential and Waterway Capacities - infrastructure including ports and transhipment facilities - structure and size of the fleet


WP2 Shifting obstacles

2.1 Development of Questionnaires and Interview Guidelines - groups to be questioned - selection criteria - development and coordination of questionnaires and interview guidelines

2.2 Realisation of Interviews and written Questioning on the different axis of the Belgian network

2.3 Analysis of Results - kind and importance of shifting obstacles - differentiation with regard to regions, commodity groups, industries, etc.

WP3 Prerequisites for shifting: Requirements for a full Integration of Inland Waterways into Intermodal Transport Chains

3.1 Technical Optimisation - ports/terminals - transhipment/storage - transport containments

3.2 Operational Optimisation - organisation and coordination demand - responsibilities - administrative regulations and rules

3.3 Market Optimisation - transparency - cooperation and coordination.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Belgian Federal Science Policy Office
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


  • Analysis of the possibility to shift cargo traffic to inland waterways;
  • Outline of obstacles to intensive use of waterway transport;
  • Pre-requisites for a succesful integration of the system into intermodal chains;
  • Strategy for the future.

Policy implications

The study is addressed to decision makers to make sector plans for sustainable development, to plan infrastructure integrating waterway transport into the logistical chain, policy for a more environmental friendly mobility.


The study concerns only carriage of freight and the shifting of cargo traffic to inland waterways


The study want's to identify the main barriers hindering a shifting of cargo from road to waterway on the Belgian network and display the requirements to fulfil for a full integration of inland waterways into Intermodal Transport Chains

Economic aspects

Beside transport cost and time, the study shows other the critial factors in deciding on the transport mode: affinity, reliability and new possibilities offered by free competition

Decision-support tools

The study elaborates the concepts and strategies for integration of waterborn transport in Belgian. It contributes to a policy for a congestion free and environmental friendly mobility.


The study is a solid basis for setting up the plan for sustainable development, for decision making on infrastructures. It also provides guidelines for integration of waterway transport in the logistical chain


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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