The Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) and the European Commission have collaborated and released the 2023 edition of the Annual Market Observation Report on Inland Navigation in Europe, providing an analysis of the inland waterway transport sector during the challenging year of 2022. Discover the report highlights in this article.

In 2022, the IWT sector experienced an economic recession, with a significant decrease in cargo transport volumes across all segments, except for coal, which saw a growth rate of +10.6%. The war in Ukraine, coupled with the energy crisis, led to a slowdown in demand for various cargo segments, resulting in reduced transport of metals, construction materials, containers, and agrifood products.

Low water levels in July and August 2022 further strained the industry, leading to a rise in freight rates by an average of +42.5% compared to the previous year. The report also outlines the state of the inland navigation fleet, noting a slight increase in innovative vessels aimed at reducing emissions.

Passenger transport exhibited a recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly in river cruises, showing a rebound in 2022 compared to 2021. However, newbuilding activity for river cruises remained slow due to inflationary tendencies and increased shipbuilding costs.

Looking forward, the report suggests a favourable outlook for cargo transport from 2024 onwards, but uncertainty prevails in 2023 due to volatile conditions stemming from the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis. The demand for river cruises is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023, although the outlook for new cruise vessel construction remains uncertain.

You can access the full report here.