About Watertruck

How does the European Union justify this intervention in the market, while regarding measures requested by the sector, they always stated market interventions are not allowed?

Watertruck+ aims at introducing an economically feasible alternative for road transport via a flexible model of waterway transport that is complementary with the present waterway transport.

The aim of the project is to use the new Watertrucks on freight flows that are not transported by the existing fleet of operators not participating in the project. This means that there is no intervention with the existing market. Moreover, we expect an increase in the market share of inland waterways in the European modal split.

As an example, Waterwegen & Zeekanaal (W&Z) has engaged in moving goods via Watertruck+ for the project ‘Nieuwe Stede’, consisting of 415.00 tonnes of soil spread over 7 years for the first  test case . If it was not for Watertruck+, these loads would have been transported by road.

Why and how much shall Europe invest in this project?

The total budget for Watertruck+ is 23 million euro, of which 11,5 million euro will be contributed by the European Commission. Private parties have invested at least 9,5 million euro for the construction of the fleet. The remaining 2 million euro comes from the Flemish Government for Project Coordination and Studies.

How will Watertruck+ increase the productivity of the skippers?

By decoupling loading from unloading, on-board staff will only be sailing and does not longer have to wait until the receiver has loaded or unloaded. In the meantime, the staff can operate on other barges.

No accommodation also means optimizing payload and efficiency.

Carrying capacity Watertruck (CEMT I) compared to Spits Carrying capacity Watertruck (CEMT II) compared to Kempenaar
Cargo weight (mt) +15% +12%
Cargo volume (m3) +18% +20%
Containers (TEU) N/A +20%

Within the Watertruck concept, a dayshift can be implemented. At the end of his shift, the shipper can go home. It is no longer necessary to live on board for several weeks, which makes the profession more attractive for younger skippers.

Who will operate the vessels and who will organise the Watertruck loads?

The ‘Design and construction to use’ agreements concluded between all individual operators and Watertruck+ bvba stipulate that during the period of validity of this agreement (which starts upon signing and ends on December 31, 2020), Watertruck+ bvba continues to be the owner of the vessels and organises the loads. However, the individual operators will plan the loads and run the vessels.

After this period the operator is entitled to a call option allowing him to buy his order and continue using it. However, this use is subject to the obligation to comply with the Watertruck+ objectives for a period of at least 4 years. This means that vessels will enter the free market on 1st January 2025 at the earliest.

Which public parties are participating in the project?

The following parties are currently represented within the Watertruck+ project.

Flemish Government: the European Commission made a Call for proposals within the 2014 CEF Transport Calls – Multi-Annual Work Programme on 11th September 2014.The Flemish Government, represented by the Flemish Minister Ben Weyts, submitted an application for the Watertruck+ project on 26th February 2015. This led to the signing of a Grant Agreement between the INEA and the Flemish Government on 4th December 2015, under which Waterwegen & Zeekanaal nv shall act as the lead partner.

Implementing bodies – bvba Watertruck+: The Flemish government mandated Waterwegen & Zeekanaal nv and De Vlaamse Waterweg nv (nv De Scheepvaart) in conjunction with the Expertise Centre for Smart Mobility of the Antwerp Management School (previously Flanders Institute for Mobility)established a with the intention of creating a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) bvba Watertruck+.

Bvba Watertruck+ is responsible for the project development, the design (standardisation, design, innovation), the construction and the delivery of the vessels to the operators, the creation of a master plan, the dissemination of the project results and communication. The public parties are the initiators of the Watertruck+ project and were involved in the preceding Interreg project. They are the founders of bvba Watertruck+.

Shippers: Shipper Waterwegen & Zeekanaal (Project Nieuwe Stede) has appointed, through a public tendering procedure, an operator for the transportation of 415,000 tonnes fort he period of7 years in Call I. As a result,the modal shift of cargo flows to waterborne transportation has been realized.

Operators: Operator De Cloedt signed the ‘Design and construct to use’ agreement as a result of Call I in early 2015. Through this individual agreement, this operator commits itself to deploy 10 CEMT-I barges and 6 CEMT-II barges in their operations. De Cloedt will co-invest in the vessels that are to be built for their flows. They state having practical experience with inland navigation and having sufficient cargo at their disposal. During the selection procedure, a lot of importance was given to new flows and to flows that are open to a modal shift.

Watertruck+ published a second call in order to find extra shippers and operators in September 2016. As a result of this second call, additional ‘Design and construct to use’ agreements have been signed with operators De Cloedt and André Celis.

What is the difference between the Interreg project Watertruck and the TEN-T project Watertruck+?

While the Interreg project Watertruck was rather a feasibility study to investigate if there is a real potential for this new way of transport, the TEN-T Watertruck+ project aims at scaling up the Watertruck concept on a EU scale by developing a Masterplan and building an actual fleet of Watertrucks used on a pilot basis.

The Interreg project Watertruck is a project on a concept for goods transport on small waterways (CEMT I-IV) that can unlock the economic potential of a region through the use of small, self-propelled or unpropelled, standardised barges. The following work packages have been handled within this project:

  • Analyses of Fleets in Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
  • Identification of new and existing high added value markets and flow categories that benefit most from Watertruck decoupling sail-load/unload feature.
  • Exploration of financing models and structures.
  • Learnings from push boat/barge combinations class V and up.
  • Personnel issues.
  • Solutions for implementing optimal Watertruck patterns for CEMT classes I, II, III, IV and seaport areas.
  • Determination of the optimal set of Watertruck push barge capacities.
  • Identification and selection of industrial Watertruck-flows in Belgium, France and The Netherlands.
  • Controlling transport-economic feasibility and show added value of decoupling load/unload operations from sailing.
  • Identification and selection of industrial Watertruck-flows (pilot cases).
  • Examination of the possibilities for the implementation of sustainable techniques within the Watertruck concept in accordance with an economically viable approach.
  • Regional Watertruck Group Demand Models.
  • Research on technical opportunities and production capacities for series production of small push barges.
  • Dissemination of the concept.

The Watertruck+ project, a TEN-T/CEF-project, brings the concept from Watertruck to life by introducing a fleet of vessels, consisting of small, self-propelled or unpropelled, standardised barges and push boats, used in convoys.

Watertruck+ aims to achieve a solution that is complementary to the existing inland waterways. The aim is to equip the market with business cases for a large European fleet of vessels by rolling out the Watertruck concept in various European regions. The project consists of the following work packages:

  • Market approach: development of business cases related to shippers’ commitment.
  • Contracting the logistics operators – selection and business case development.
  • Preparation for the operational programme – development of the planning models and monitoring tools, decision on necessary equipment (propelled, push boats, pontoons), founding of the commercial entity (SPV).
  • Ship Design.
  • Construction of Watertruck+, build to use
  • Real life trial of Watertruck+.
  • Development of the masterplan for upscaling Watertruck+.
  • Communication and dissemination.
  • Project coordination.

Contact: info@vlaamsewaterweg.be

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