Watertruck is a new, innovative way of transporting goods that aims to reactivate small inland waterways by introducing a new concept for inland waterway transport.
Innovative concept: the overall objective is to enhance the interconnectivity and interoperability between the TEN-T core network and smaller inland waterways. Watertruck+ is articulated around transport units (barges and push boats) that sail in convoys and can be coupled and decoupled in a fast and flexible way. Loading and unloading are decoupled from the navigation itself, thus enhancing the service ratio on the smaller waterways.
Innovative design: Watertruck+ provides a universal standard design for various types of small inland barges that can be modified to satisfy the operational requirement of a specific goods flow (cargo flow), propulsion, hatches, lifting (pumping) systems, a small crane, etc. can be added or removed without having a major impact on the overall hull structure. The use of alternative materials (i.e. aluminum, composite) will be examined in order to construct and operate the barges in the most efficient way so that the unit life-cycle costs are limited as much as possible.
Low emissions: the choice of fuel type will be examined, with the aim being to decrease the barges’ noxious emissions. Alternative fuel types such as LNG, CNG, hydrogen, hybrid, will be considered and determined during the project, as well as the propulsion type. CO2 emissions will be reduced by at least 25% and the type of fuel and propulsion system to be used will at least comply with the EURO VI norm of road transport.
Flexible: Watertruck+ ensures maximum flexibility of operations while maintaining maximum regional coverage by connecting small inland waterways with the TEN-T network.
Operational and economic viability: The previous Interreg project Watertruck has demonstrated the operational and economic viability of the Watertruck concept. This study has been included in six demonstration projects in Belgium (Flanders and Brussels), the Netherlands and France. The Watertruck+ potential in the regions of West-Vlaanderen (Flanders) and Kempen (Campine, Flanders) amounted to 3 million tons (of which at least half is modal shift), while the modal shift potential in the Netherlands (Northern Brabant) amounted to 0.4 million tons.
Modal shift: WT+ encourages a modal shift including new flows which would otherwise have gone via road, and which makes inland waterway transport competitive to road transport. Also, new investment programs are included (avoidance of reverse modal shift).
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