The Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) in partnership with the European Commission released their latest Market Insight Report on European inland navigation (April 2023).
The report reveals that the first half of 2022 saw a 2.8% decrease in freight transport performance on European inland waterways compared to the same period in 2021, primarily due to the economic consequences of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. However, there were some notable exceptions, such as coal transport on the Rhine increasing by 26% and an increase in grain transport on the lower Danube, which acted as an alternative route for Ukrainian grain exports when seaports were blocked.
On a positive note, the activity in the passenger transport sector has finally returned to pre-pandemic levels after significant losses in 2020 and 2021, with both the Rhine and the Danube seeing a recovery.
The report also analyzes operating conditions, including fuel prices, which roughly doubled between mid-2021 and mid-2022, reaching their highest level since the beginning of 2006 due to the war in Ukraine. Freight rates followed an upward trend in the first half of 2022, mainly for dry bulk, with coal transport playing a significant role.
The third chapter of the report focuses on Italian inland navigation. In Italy, freight transport mainly develops along the river Po and its adjacent canals. Despite fluctuating hydrological conditions, the volume of freight transport increased in 2020 and 2021 to almost one million tonnes per year. Passenger transport is also of high relevance in Italy, with the lakes and the Venice lagoon accounting for more than 99% of all passenger transport on Italian inland waterways.