More goods carried by inland waterways in 2014 but hardly or no turnover growth

19/03/2015 15:00

Statistics Netherlands announced today that the carriage of goods by inland waterways has risen by 3 percent last year. Total turnover increased, but as yet has not reached the pre-recession level.

Inland shipping grew by 3 percent last year. Altogether, more than 365 million tons of goods were carried by inland waterways, accounting for one third of total goods transport over Dutch territory. Nearly 80 percent were carried by Dutch barges. The growth is observed across nearly all product groups. The fastest rising product groups are sand and gravel, other building materials and container transport. The carriage of coal for power stations and iron ore declined and had a negative impact on total growth.

Overcapacity

Despite the increase in the total volume of goods, turnover has hardly or not at all risen. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, many new barges with more loading capacity were added to the inland shipping fleet. These ships were already ordered before the recession struck in 2008. Due to the recession the volume of goods offered for transport by inland waterways was smaller than initially anticipated. The overcapacity kept freight rates down. Other factors, e.g. the water level in the Dutch rivers, also affect freight rates. The higher turnover in 2011 was caused by extremely low water levels. When the water level is low, a low- tide surcharge applies, because fewer goods can be carried, resulting in a higher price per load.

Increase in scale

The overall loading capacity of dry bulk carriers has fallen since 2012. This is predominantly due to the fact that many smaller vessels were taken out of service. As a result, the average loading capacity per vessel is still growing. The increase in scale can be observed in inland and sea shipping. In liquid bulk, the number of vessels as well as the overall loading capacity are still growing, but growth is slowing down. The loading capacity of the average inland vessel equals 50 lorries.