Measuring the Impacts of Weather Changes on Water Depths and Transport Costs by Inland Navigation: a Multimodal Approach for the Rhine Corridor

Measuring the Impacts of Weather Changes on Water Depths and Transport Costs by Inland Navigation: a Multimodal Approach for the Rhine Corridor


M Beuthe, B Jourguin, N Urbain, Universite Catholique de Louvain, BE; F Bruinsma,VU Amsterdam, NL; I Lingemann, Bundesanstalt fuer Gewasserkunde (BfG),DE; B Ubbels, NEA, NL


Analysis with a multimodal GIS network model of the impacts of weather variations on the competitiveness of transports by inland navigation on the Rhine.


It is well known that melted snow, rainfall and evaporations affect the rivers water levels and that it may impair transport by inland navigation during a number of days. Indeed, water depth conditions the loading of boats, hence their transport cost and their competitive position versus alternative modes, rail and trucking. The ECCONET research project funded by the European Commission endeavors to measure the potential effects of these phenomena on the Rhine and Danube navigation in the context of the observed weather variability and expected climate change scenarios.

Many interdisciplinary and methodological issues are involved in such an analysis. These are tackled in details in numerous reports and papers on statistical data, climate evolution prognoses, boats specifications, adjustment strategies, etc. The present paper, using a number of inputs from several ECCONET chapters, focuses on the competitiveness of inland transport navigation when there are weather variations,on the basis of the year 2005 matrixes of origins-destinations flows and cost data provided by VU Amsterdam and NEA, and selected weather scenarios developed by BfG.

The model is using the NODUS software which, through cost minimization, assigns transport traffics between modes and means over the multimodal trans-European network of roads, rails and rivers or canals. Given the spatial scope of the research, traffics on the Rhine and Danube, the network includes all the regions involved in these traffics from France and Benelux countries to Bulgaria and Romania. Transport costs include variable and fixed costs of carrying goods by the three modes, road costs to places of loading/unloading on wagons or boats, plus the costs of these operations.

The analysis is split in two parts separating the Rhine market from the Danube market, because of differences in operating conditions on the two rivers and in the boats costs, and differences in minimum water depths as measured in specific places. The submitted paper will only present the Rhine market analysis.

At this stage of the research program we already obtained results on a set of sensitivity analyses around the 2005 situation using three alternative simulations of water depths variations over a year that are selected from an observed set of 26 previous years. The outputs are the changes induced by the waterways conditions in the modal split and the costs of transport for the three modes as well as for ten different commodities (NST-R). These analyses show how much the share of inland navigation decreases with lower water levels as its transport cost increases. The rate of use of six types of boats is also computed in each case. Further on, we have estimated what would have been the impacts on transport costs and modal split in 2005 had the present network been already improved along the lines of the EU TEN-T program of new infrastructures, which is expected to be completed by 2050. We'll soon start similar analyses and prognoses on the transports situation along the Rhine corridor in 2050. That will be the object of another paper, when the corresponding results will be available.


Association for European Transport