‘More work needed’ to promote switch to waterways

More work must be done to promote the use of inland waterways as a form of transport - but Europe is on the right track, a report from the European Commission has revealed.

The report represents the first update on progress in implementing the NAIADES action programme – a project launched in 2006 to boost transport on canals and rivers.

It claims progress has already been made in a range of areas, including initiatives to improve market conditions, make the profession more attractive and improve waterway infrastructure.

However, the report noted that further efforts are needed to improve the performance of inland waterway transport and integrate it into the logistics chain.

Publishing the report, the Commission emphasised the need to use the potential of transporting goods on internal waterways to relieve congestion on other transport networks such as roads and rail and to make European transport more environmentally sustainable.

Jacques Barrot, the Commission vice president in charge of transport, said: “More extensive use of inland waterways is key to reducing the CO2 emissions of the transport sector.

“Continued commitment of all stakeholders under the NAIADES programme is a precondition for making inland waterways an important element in the logistics chain.”

Future areas which the Commission plans to tackle through the NAIADES programme includes funding and state aid, working time arrangements, professional qualification requirements and infrastructure improvements.

There are also plans to scrutinise administrative and regulatory barriers across Europe and to devolve technology such as River Information Services.

The NAIADES programme is expected to run until 2013.

Kate Martin

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