#IWTS 2.0

Inland Waterway Transport Solutions Learn more

About “#Inland Waterway Transport Solutions 2.0 (#IWTS 2.0)”

Welcome to the webspace of #IWTS 2.0 – a project co-funded by the North Sea Region Programme 2014 – 2020.

Inland waterway transport (IWT) is a reliable, climate friendly transport alternatives for all types of commodities. The energy input per t/km is superior to rail and road transport. The purpose of #IWTS 2.0 is to promote inland navigation on Europe´s canal and river network.

Explore this webspace to learn how inland navigation can contribute to your logistics needs.

Why Inland Waterway Transportation?

 “We work excellently with inland waterway transport because the pre-carriages or oncarriages
come explicitly from Rotterdam or Antwerp”

Wolfgang Weber, CEO, EKB Container Logistik GmbH & Co. KG, Bremen, Germany





“I should like to compare logistics to a transmission. There are participants who have large and
small shares in the system, but only the interaction of all elements, including inland waterway transportation, makes everything move.”

Arne Harms, Harms Binnenschifffahrt GmbH Elsfleth, Germany


Some basic facts about Inland Waterway Transportation

The European rivers and canals are mainly used to transport containers, bulk cargoes, such as ores, coal and refinery products as well as project cargoes. Those goods can be excellently transported on inland waterway vessels. A single vessel, or barge, can transport as much as hundreds of trucks. And, the capacities of rivers and canals have not yet been exhausted. A barge can transport almost any cargo and waterways are far from being overcrowded.

With only 1.9 cent/tkm the inland navigation causes less than half of the costs of a heavy goods vehicle which causes 4.2 cent/tkm. The differences of external costs are caused among other factors by lower emission of the greenhouse gas CO² from the inland navigation in comparison to a heavy goods vehicle. Emissions of barges per tonne-kilometer (tkm) are ten-times lower: in numbers 20 g/tkm for a barge to over 250 g/tkm for a truck (sources: ZKR, 2017; EU Com., 2019).

Sure, you can´t reach every place in Europe by inland vessel. However, an efficient transport chain makes the most of every transport mode and combines truck, rail and inland waterways to create synergy effects. Inland navigation is most economic on long distances, for example along the main-haul of a transport chain. With that in mind, combined traffic offers different solutions in cooperation with the railway or a truck to reach every pleace trougout Europe.

Explore the Inland Waterway Transportation System


Have you ever wondered how goods arrive on your doorstep?


Inland navigation provides an environmentally friendly way to serve transport needs in a growing, and increasingly digital logistics industry across Central Europe. However, we think it is under-utilised: It can deliver more! Explore what this website is all about.

Explore this website to discover how. Listen to the presentation to navigate through the #IWTS 2.0 – Learning Inventory.

This video introduces you to the concept of a simple transport chain. It shows the components of such a chain from source to destination. The video illustrates where inland navigation might come in.
Inland waterway transport – A transport solution that works. File credits: EU

This video illustrates challenges for inland navigation along transport chains.
IWTS Innovation Challenge

Welcome to the #IWTS 2.0 – Innovation Challenge: It is an event with new and exciting ideas around two questions:

  • What fundamental economic and political change is needed to position inland shipping as a key enabler in a future CO2-reduced transport system?
  • In what form can inland shipping benefit from increased digitization of logistics?

Contribute with an idea:

We invite students of European universities and young professionals to compete for the most innovative ideas to make inland navigation more attractive. Apply as an individual or as a group with your idea and secure your speaking slot on the #IWTS 2.0 – Innovation Challenge. Working language will be German, although contributions can be in English language.

Join as an attendee:

Join the #IWTS 2.0 – Innovation Challenge as an attendee and listen to new and innovative ideas around inland naviagation. A Transport Lab is open to all attendees of the event to simulate real-life decision making in inland shipping.


Want to learn more? Want to register? Click here!


What is inland waterway transportation (IWTS) all about?
Across the Northsea Region there is a dense network of inland waterways. The best known is surely the River Rhine. But there are also other rivers and canals. Along most of them, inland waterway transportation is possible.

Inland navigation offers direct connections to most deepsea ports in North-western Europe. Especially for containers, bulk and project cargoes, the advantages of inland navigation brought to bear. Depending on the size of the river or canal an inland waterway vessel can be up to 135m long and be able to carry around 5.300t. Due to capacity reserves on inland waterways barges are mostly punctual and dependable.

Discover here how it works!


Europe’s network of navigable rivers and canals offers access to the continent’s urban and industrial centres, allowing for the more efficient, cleaner, quieter, and safer transport of goods – large and small.

Video credits: Inland Navigation Europe

See how two companies use inland shipping to optimise their logistic processes.

Video credits: Stichting Connekt

Working in inland navigation is adventurous, you travel all over Europe. Working in inland navigiation is varied; every day is different. Working in inland navigation is challenging with many options and career opportunities, job guarantee, a good salary and good leisure time arrangements. You want that too? Look at the possibilities.

Video credits: BV Binnenvaart

Take a virtual tour of the INLAND CONTAINER SHIP “LINJAD”

Video credits: Rensen-Driessen Shipbuilding B.V.

Take a virtual tour by barge from Bergen Op zoom (The Netherlands) to Antwerp (Belgium)

Credits: Inland vessel Vera Cruz

Inland waterways and ports in action (language: German)

Video credits: Inland Navigation Europe

Inland ports: Essential parts of water-borne supply chain (language: German)

Video credits: Bundesverband öffentlicher Binnenhäfen

Inland ports: thriathlon-like changing zones (language: German)

Video credits: bayernhäfen GmbH & Co. KG

Navigation on Finnland´s Saimaa-Waterway

Video credits: Interreg-Project EMMA

https://www.ndr.de/fernsehen/sendungen/die_nordstory/Alte-Kanaele-in-Schleswig-Holstein,dienordstory1116.html A very good report on inland waterways of the past. Unfortunately German only.

Video credits: NDR


IWTS for your cargo?
Europe’s network of navigable rivers and canals offers access to the continent’s urban and industrial centres, allowing for the more efficient, cleaner, quieter, and safer transport of goods – large and small. There is a vessel for every cargo. Inland ports are equipped to handle containers, dry and wet bulk commodities as well as vehicles and project cargoes.

Explore the examples!

Containers travelling the River Rhine.


Video credits: MKROXTON

Commercial shipping on the River Whaal, The Netherlands.


Video credits: waterways52

Ketchup and sweats travelling on Dutch waterways: A case study video
(language: Dutch with English subtitles)



Video credits: Inland Navigation Europe

When it comes to grain transport, inland waterways are the environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternative to road and rail. The ecological and economical advantages of transport via an existing broad network of rivers can be maximized even further through highly efficient unloading of barges. What is required? A high-performance unloading system that sets new standards in the areas of energy

Video credits: Bühler Group – Bargolink™, the future of inland waterway transportation


IWTS - Innovation delivered

Inland navigation is more innovative than you might think. Here are some examples which might even encourage you to think of some innovative concept for a custom-made solution by yourself!

First of all, there are the trends like digitalisation or the sharing of freight information and vessel pooling for a higher vessel utilisation. Then there is the idea of selfgeared inland vessels. Furthermore, there are concepts for metropoles addressing the enormous everyday traffic on the roads. Inland vessels could be used like watertrucks in a combination of push boats and barges or small self-propelled vessels using also very small waterways.

Explore the examples!

Learn about the trends in inland shipping. File credits: OECD
The “Masterplan Binnenschifffahrt” of the Federal Ministry for Transportation and Digitisation, Germany: A political roadmap. File credits: BMVI
See how port companies share freight information to pool vessel usage. Video credits: Frisian Ports

Demonstrating the use of urban and inland waterways
– for densely populated cities and more sustainable transport
Demonstrating the use of inland waterways in Sweden

How do your drinks get to your local pub? Demonstrating the use of urban waterways: The beer boat – an all electric urban supply vessel.
File courtesy of: Inland Navigation Europe

Inland waterways transport for city logistics:
a review of experiences and the role of
local public authorities

File courtesy of: Inland Navigation Europe

The NEWS project has developed a Next Generation European Inland Waterway Ship and logistics system to make container transport on inland waterways more cost-, time- and ecologically efficient. It supports the full integration of waterborne transport into the EU transport and logistics chain (video 1).

File courtesy of: NEWS project

The NEWS project has developed a Next Generation European Inland Waterway Ship and logistics system to make container transport on inland waterways more cost-, time- and ecologically efficient. It supports the full integration of waterborne transport into the EU transport and logistics chain (video 2).

File courtesy of: NEWS project

Normally, inland vessels are not equipped with handling technology. This one is – explore the Mercurius Crane Barge.

File courtesy of: Mercurius Shipping Group

Watertruck is an innovative transport concept where small vessels (push boats and barges) are operated in a similarway as road transport (truck/trailer concept), whereby convoys are formed on large fairways and individual (self-propelled) barges or smaller convoys can penetrate the capillar network of small waterways.

File courtesy of: Watertruck

Watch here what is so special about Watertruck.

File courtesy of: Watertruck

IT Technologies for Inland Waterway Transport. File credits: ST4W
Digitisation of the River Elbe corridor, Germany. File credits: HTC


Students´ Material and Research into Inland Shipping

One of the objectives of the #IWTS 2.0-Project is bring inland shipping onto the mental radar screens of students and young professionals. Browse here the outcome of academic research into IWT sponsored by the IWTS 2.0-Project, so everybody else can benefit.

Promoting inland waterway transport as part of future sustainable transport solutions

Development of instructional learning material based on competencies for an inland waterway transportation learning platform at bremenports

Of Containers and Feedstuff – Inland Shipping in Northern Germany: Two Case Studies


Want more?

Want to have more information?

If you would like to learn more about the wonderful world of inland waterway vessels, you have come to the right place. On our website you will find only a small extract of information. Many more facts and figures about IWTS 2.0 can be found on the Interreg North Sea Region website.

A comprehensive learning repository with plenty of information and case studies is provided here:

REWWay.at – Research and Education in Inland Waterway Logistics

See here for an introduction to REWWay.at. File credits: Rewway.at

In addition, the Bundesverband öffentlicher Binnenhäfen e.V. provides information on the subject along with many other platforms. A corresponding link collection with platforms, websites and videos can be found here.

The Project #IWTS 2.0
Inland Navigation Europe:
Bundesverband öffentlicher Binnenhäfen
European Inland Barging Innovation Platform

Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCR)

Of containers and feedstuff –  #IWTS presents two new case studies

Of containers and feedstuff – #IWTS presents two new case studies

You remember 10% of what you read. You remember 90% of what you have actually worked on: Case-study based learning is a good way to review a new topic. #IWTS 2.0 has prepared two case studies covering the transportation of typical commodities in inland navigation....

Good news for IWT in times of COVID-19

Good news for IWT in times of COVID-19

Inland shipping in Germany gained 3.6% in 2019 over the previous year. According the the national inland shipping association (Bundesverband der Deutschen Binnenschifffahrt) total tonnage amounted to 205 million tonnes. This volume compensates losses due to prolonged...

It´s time for your ideas

It´s time for your ideas

Inland shipping, or inland waterway transport (IWT), offers a cheap and environmentally friendly transport alternative. However, it is a niche player in Europe´s ca. 1 trillion EUR-logistics market: It accounts for just 6 % of the total European transport performance....