Facts & Figures


Inland shipping is highly significant in regions with navigable waterways, reaching up to 44% of the total transport share in the catchment areas of major seaports.

In 2014, inland waterways shipped in total 552 million tonnes in the EU, a new after-crisis record. This is an increase in tonnage by 3.3%, but we see a decrease in tonne-km, which points at a decrease in distances travelled.

The Netherlands and Germany remain the largest inland shipping nations in the EU, followed by Belgium. Almost 80% of the volumes by barge is carried on the territory of these three countries.

By modal share, the Netherlands , Romania and Bulgaria have most goods carried by inland shipping. In Poland and the Czech Republic, volumes are going upward again after a declining trend.

Metal ores, coke and refined petroleum and agribulk together constitute the biggest markets in inland waterways, totalling a share of almost 54% with agribulk overtaking coal and crude petroleum in 2014. The coal and fuel markets are expected to stagnate and decrease in the future with the changing climate and energy policies which may progressively point at more renewables. The agribulk business, building industry and metal business are expected to continue an upward trend.

The container business has rebounded strongly since the economic crisis, performing better than in 2007. It is a growing market on the Rhine and elsewhere, with the exception of the Upper Danube, Elbe and Odra.

European inland waterways offer:

  • A 40,000km congestion-free network 
  • 20,000km accessible to 1,000 tonne  vessels


Facts & Figures

FF General 150  IWT Numbers Square

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