Watertruck+ inland shipping project to avoid 6 000 truck rides
The Flemish Waterway (De Vlaamse Waterweg, DVW) has announced a new phase of the Watertruck+ project. The project aims at finding solutions to transport goods via waterways. This year, the participating partners want to haul 120 000 tons of goods on the water and save 6 000 truck rides.
Watertruck+ is a European project that started seven years ago. It aims at the gradual introduction of an innovative concept to transport goods on small waterways by using small self-propelled or unpropelled standardized barges. With large or small environmentally-friendly push boats used to push the convoys, the concept ensures maximum operations flexibility.
Coupled and pushed
“The investments in the fleet for inland shipping are decreasing,” explains Dominique Vanhecke, managing director of DVW, in a Belga press release on Wednesday. “Still, we aim the potential of small waterways in Flanders at three million tons capacity.
That is why Watertruck+, a public/private cooperation with Group De Cloedt, Groep André Celis, the Antwerp Management School, and the Flemish Waterway, developed innovative end environmentally-friendly tug-pushed dumb barges. The vehicles are self-propelled or not motorized at all. They can be coupled and pushed by a push boat.
No need to live on board
The system makes sure that waterways are fully exploited, and through-put time for companies is shorter. The full containers are uncoupled, empty ones are connected to the push boat, and the barge can sail again.
The main characteristics of the project are, on the one hand, the separation of the actual transport and (un)loading activities and, on the other, that staff no longer needs to live onboard.
Watertruck+ is intended to ensure a better connection between the leading waterway network and smaller waterways. The project hopes it will strengthen and the inland shipping sector and make it more sustainable. It also offers a concrete and low-cost solution to compensate for the structural shortage of canal barges.
120 000 tons of cargo
The initiators want to have 18 of those tug-pushed dumb barges on the Flemish waterways by mid-2021. Together, they will transport 120 000 tons of cargo on the water and save on 6 000 truck rides. The final goal of Watertruck+ is to have a fleet of 30 barges and two push boats soon. The project is financially supported by the innovative agency INEA of the European Commission.
The Flemish waterway earlier announced to be willing to create the possibility of having crewless ships on the Flemish channels by 2030. The Flemish Waterway manages more than 1 000 kilometers of navigable waterways in Flanders.