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Inland Shipping

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Project website
Project Acronym
Inland Shipping
STRIA Roadmaps
Transport mode
Waterborne icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues,
Environmental/Emissions aspects
Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Inland shipping as a response to the growth in container flow

The expectation is that container transport to and from the main port of Rotterdam will grow significantly over the next 20 years. If this growth is accommodated by road transport, our roads will become completely blocked. There is a lot of unused capacity in the system of inland waterways and inland shipping is capable of transporting large volumes. Compared to transport by lorry or plane, inland shipping produces far less CO2. Moreover, inland shipping accidents are rare.

Inland shipping will thus have to make a considerable contribution to keeping the main port accessible. For that reason, the Dutch government is encouraging the transport of goods on inland waterways in order to keep the main port accessible. In this regard, the preconditions include that the inland shipping fleet becomes cleaner and that the transport product, which comprises inland shipping, becomes more reliable.

Other preconditions are that inland shipping becomes cleaner and that the current safety level is at least maintained if not improved.


More stringent European standards for engines
New inland shipping engines must meet certain emissions requirements. These international agreements will be tightened up within the EU.

The Blue Road
Dutch inland shipping has an overarching brand: The Blue Road (in Dutch). The inland shipping sector can use the logo to indicate that it makes use of sustainable transport by water.

Environmental label for inland shipping vessels
The Green Award certificate is an environmental label for inland vessels. The aim of this label is to stimulate clean inland shipping and to make clean vessels recognisable. To make obtaining a Green Award certificate attractive to skippers, ports are considering giving discounts on port fees to clean inland vessels that have a Green Award certificate.


The management and maintenance of waterways is focused on managing and preserving functionality in order to facilitate safe transport on water. In this regard, the emphasis is on:

  • maintaining existing waterways;
  • getting maintenance work up to date;
  • operating locks and bridges;
  • improving safety on waterways.

The investments in waterways are mainly aimed at maintaining existing routes. Locks and bridges must continue to work properly. Waterways must be dredged so that they remain passable for ever larger ships. The priority given to different types of maintenance work depends on the economic importance of the transport function and the risks that the locks and other structures pose in terms of circulation.


Funding Source
Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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