Inland vessels carried over 3 percent fewer goods in 2022

Inland navigation in Rotterdam
© CBS / Alrik Swagerman
In 2022, over 345 million tonnes of goods were transported by inland vessels on Dutch waterways. This is 3.4 percent less than in 2021. Coal shipments by inland vessels increased by 18.6 percent last year. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures.

The weight of bulk cargo shipments declined by 2.3 percent in 2022. The decrease was mainly seen in liquid bulk cargo such as petroleum products (-3.3 percent). The weight of dry bulk cargo, such as ores and minerals, fell by 1.7 percent year on year. The strongest decline was seen in container shipments: 9.7 down on 2021.

Weight transported by inland vessels
Soort vervoer2022 (million tonnes)2021 (million tonnes)
Dry bulk181.4184.5
Liquid bulk118.5122.6
Container goods45.650.5

Fewer inbound shipments

Inbound cargo shipments by inland vessels decreased to 60.9 million tonnes in 2022. This is 9.9 percent less than in the previous year. Inbound container cargo dropped in particular, by 21.6 percent. Metal ores and other minerals, as well as coke and refined petroleum products, saw a decrease as well: -9.5 and -11.5 percent respectively. Domestic transport and transit trade also declined last year, by 3.1 and 7.6 percent respectively. Outbound cargo shipments rose by 1.6 percent in 2022.

Weight transported by inland vessels, 2022
StroomChange (year-on-year % change)

Coal transport up again

The weight of coal transported by inland vessels declined up until 2020. After strong growth in 2021, it increased further in 2022 (by 18.6 percent). Coal shipments on inland waterways are mainly destined for Germany: 83.0 percent of total coal transport by inland vessels had Germany as its destination last year. Transport of metal ores and other minerals, occupying the largest share in inland navigation in terms of weight, decreased by 5.3 percent to almost 84 million tonnes in 2022. Transport of coke and refined petroleum products was down by 7.4 percent. Chemicals products, on the other hand, were transported more by inland vessels (+2.4 percent).

Weight transported by inland vessels
Goederensoort2022 (million tonnes)2021 (million tonnes)
Metal ores and other minerals83.888.5
Coke and refined petroleum products62.467.4
Chemical products and synthetic or artificial fibres59.658.2
Container goods45.350.2
Coal and lignite, crude oil and natural gas30.125.4

More transport of 40ft containers

The weight of container shipments by inland vessels declined to over 45 million tonnes in 2022. This is 9.7 percent less than in the previous year. The number of transported containers (measured in TEU, the standard unit for containers) fell by only 4.4 percent. The length of a container is expressed in feet (ft); most containers are 20 feet or 40 feet long. In 2022, the share of 40ft containers in inland shipping amounted to nearly 66 percent, up 4.3 percent from the previous year. The share of 40ft containers in inland navigation has increased anyhow over the past decade. Whereas in 2012 40ft containers accounted for only 53 percent of total container transport, this had risen to 66 percent in 2022. The total weight of container cargo and the number of transported TEUs have also increased over the past ten years, by 18.0 percent and 9.2 percent respectively.

Fewer hazardous substances shipped by inland vessels

In 2022, more than 95 million tonnes of hazardous substances were transported by inland vessels. This is 5.2 percent less than in the previous year. Flammable liquids such as petrol and diesel are the most commonly carried hazardous substances in inland shipping, accounting for 69.7 percent.

Hazardous substances transported by inland vessels, 2022
Flammable liquids66.4
Other hazardous substances21.1
Corrosive substances3.1

As of 2023, CBS uses a modified method to produce inland navigation statistics. The series as of 2012 according to the new method is available on StatLine.