Address other bottlenecks

There are more bottlenbecks and the river is not to blame for them

River stretches with a shallow depth or steep turns are usually blamed as the key obstacle, or bottleneck, for the growth of the inland waterway transport. However, in the door-to-door flow of goods, shallow depth is by far not the only one to blame. These bottlenecks include lack of functioning intermodal connections, organisational inefficiencies, and lack of timely forecasts of water levels.

Multi-modal facilities

In the Danube Basin, due to geographical conditions, navigation cannot provide door-to-door transport services without developing multimodal co-operation.  Therefore the desirable increase of inland waterway transport cannot be achieved by single-sector development measures - removal of bottlenecks for large-scale navigation.

The Danube has a low density of ports, and the quality of existing intermodal facilities is poor.  But the new logistic centres in the new member and accession countries are also part of the problem, since they have been developed for servicing either the road transport, or connections between road, rail and air transport, but provide no possibility for later connections to the inland waterway transport network.

Better prediction of water levels

Usually it is not the depth but its predictability that matters.  Shippers lose more when they do not know what water level to expect and thus have to prepare for a lower level from the possible range, or account for possible time losses in case there is lower level than expected.  The importance of forecasts is rising with the longer shipment distance, and thus in the Danube, where shipping distances are generally large, the availability of water level predictions for longer time periods could considerably increase shipping efficiency.  Therefore monitoring, modeling and forecasting systems should be improved.

Better organisation, more flexible and clearer shipment offers

Many transport companies currently do not even examine alternatives to road transport due to lack of time or information.  Inland transport sector should step up its efforts to form a variety of clear offers for shipments, with different price and risk combinations.  According to the Shifting Cargo study, 43% of shippers are prepared to accept longer transport times and are flexible in accepting different service levels at lower prices if conditions are clear.

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