Freight News, Logistics, Sea

Barge operator ready for a long, hot summer

[ July 22, 2019   //   ]

With central Europe heading for another long, hot summer, container logistics network Contargo has modified four of its barges to give 10-15 cm more water beneath the keel in very low water conditions on the river Rhine.

“We use barges for about 75% of our container transport”, explained Cok Vinke, Managing Director Contargo Waterway Logistics. “Periods of very low water like those we experienced last year lead to big reductions of the amounts that can be transported, and extra costs due to the purchase of additional tonnage and other transport capacities.”

Boatyards in Antwerp and Dordrecht have welded metal plates onto four vessels  in such a way that they now have to sit only 130 cm instead of 150 cm deep for their propellers to have enough water. Thanks to the € 10,000 per vessel investment allows the barges to operate in the same water levels with 10-15 cm more water beneath the keel, and can thus transport 200-300 tons more cargo in low water. Even with very low water levels, the barges can navigate the shallowest point at Kaub.

Vinke adds: “Water levels in the Rhine have always been subject to seasonal fluctuations. However, in the interests of the transport industry and climate protection, goods transport by inland waterway needs to be strengthened. For this reason public policy must take the initiative and act as soon as possible to remove existing bottlenecks. In the current Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan, draft optimisation of navigation channels in the Middle Rhine is addressed as a priority need. We hope this will be implemented as soon as possible.”