Delft University of Technology
Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering
Transport Technology

H.J.M. Fernhout Mogelijkheden binnenvaart voor stedelijke en regionale distributie.
Literature survey, Report 2003.TL.6684, Transport Engineering and Logistics.

In the past Inland Shipping was, especially in Holland, very important for the development of cities. Transportation of goods via roads was not possible or too expensive. Over the years road haulage has become more important for regional and local distribution. Nowadays traffic is dense, and roads are full, so rails and waterways are becoming a good alternative. The restoration of canals creates new opportunities for Inland Shipping, so it can reclaim its role in regional distribution.

There are several alternatives to reduce the amount of (large) trucks to and in cities. At a distribution center goods can be hauled to underground transport tubes, small vessels (like the 'beer boat' in Utrecht), small trucks or vans. If no alternatives are provided, every limitation of transport to the cities will have a negative impact on local shopkeepers.

The different transport methods all have their strengths and weaknesses. A chain could optimize the transport system; by using only the strengths of the different transport methods. The main strength of road haulage is its flexibility and its accessibility. Electric trains are environment friendly; the power plant defines the amount of toxic exhausts. Inland Shipping is mostly used and suited for transporting large quantities at once. In some areas it is however possible to use Inland Shipping competitively for smaller quantities. Inland Shipping is (or can be) environment friendly and quiet; it's also safe and less dependant on weather conditions.

Every infrastructure has bottlenecks. The water infrastructure can have shallow water, low bridges, sharp turns and lock chambers with too small a capacity. The existence of a good network of regional haulage centers is imperative to allow Inland Shipping to relieve the road haulage. Such a network would create large flows of goods. ICT is important in the organization of the chain.

With the rise of new markets for Inland Shipping the 'Neokemp' and 'Distrivaart' were born. Neokemps are small, maneuverable ships that were built to compete with road haulage. Distrivaart is a pilot-project for a floating warehouse, meant for transporting 'fast moving consumer goods'. Modular transport combines accessibility with size advantages of large commodity flows. Convoys are equipped to transport modular unit.

The railways can be an alternative to Inland Shipping for regional distribution. A future development for Automatic Vehicle Guidance in the rail transport can be a so called 'container network'. On a container network 'trains' consisting of one or two carriages travel autonomously to their destination. This network has combined the advantages of road haulage with the absence of disadvantages, like driver fee or congestion. It is however questionable if this plan will be executed in the very near future.

It's important for Inland Shipping that opportunities are used. Especially technical developments and innovation are important; Inland Shipping should take advantage of that. Alternatives for road transport are needed to improve city-life. This can extend the possibilities of Inland Shipping for urban and regional distribution. Especially to improve urban distribution water-side distribution-centers and city-magazines are required. To give Inland Shipping this opportunity, the water infrastructure has to be improved.

Reports on Transport Engineering and Logistics (in Dutch)
Modified: 2003.09.23; , TU Delft / 3mE / TT / LT.