Inland Navigation carries 33% of the EC intra-community freight, although it has not increased proportionally with the high growth in road transport. Further action from policy makers is needed to obtain a more environmentally sustainable transport system. The need for the environmentally friendly Inland Navigation will grow with the enlargement of the EC. Ultimately, the interaction between forces of supply and demand in the freight market provides the main explanation for the current market share of inland navigation. As the goal of the common European Inland Waterway Transport strategy is to increase the share of inland navigation and to contribute to a sustainable European transport system, this market mechanism defines the mission of an effective common European IWT strategy. This mission will take into account the role of the shippers' perception of the logistics performance of inland navigation. Therefore, one of the strategy directions will be to improve the awareness and knowledge level of logistics decision makers.
The main objective of the SPIN Thematic Network is to develop a Common European Strategy to increase the share of inland navigation in the transport of goods and to encourage the acceptance and implementation of the strategy. The SPIN-TN network will develop a European strategy to promote inland navigation and encourage its exploitation.
The strategy will be devised according to the following approach:
- First of all: analysing (1) the demand side of freight transport; (2) Freight markets; (3) Supply side of logistic organisation.
- Then, determining the transport modal split results from the trade-offs and decisions that are made within the freight market. The freight market can be seen as the confrontation of demand-side logistics requirements with the supply-side logistics performance of the respective modes of transport. The transport mode that is capable of meeting the demand-side requirements best will capture the larger modal share. In this way, the logistics performance of inland navigation should always be seen in light of the performance of competing modes.
- Furthermore, analysing the influential factors of the logistics performance of the inland waterway system according to the following characteristics:
- Technical characteristics: in terms of load unit and barge dimensions, transhipment techniques, information systems and standards, etc.
- Physical characteristics: all infrastructure-related issues that affect the navigability of waterways and ports, such as water levels fluctuations, bridge dimensions, curves, number of locks, width of river bed, ice and wind.
- Organisational characteristics: all aspects that deal with the functioning of the freight market, including market structures, market transparency, human resources, crossborder operations, educational programmes, etc. These issues provide the basic directions for the Strategy to be developed.
- Finally, from the relations, the common strategies for promoting inland waterway transport are elaborated.