Performance and competitiveness of European inland navigation depend to a large extension on its fleet. 

The European inland navigation fleet for good transports is characterized by a large variety of vessels but the analysis distinguishes between 2 important categories: the cargo vessels, transporting dry goods, and the tankers vessels transporting liquids. Another distinction is to be made for cargo vessels and tankers: the self-propelled vessels (more than 80% of the vessels) and the pushed boats or barges. Barges need pushers or tugs to navigate. Push boats and tug boats constitute a third category of inland navigation vessels.

The fleet supply

The European Inland navigation fleet includes more than 17 000 vessels and a capacity exceeding 18 Mio T. The split of the fleet between the different European countries follows a heterogeneous distribution, with a strong predominance of Netherlands, followed by Germany, Belgium and France. This is the case for the number of vessels per country as well as for the fleet capacity.

European Cargo Fleet in number of units (2014)*

Source:  CCNR Secretariat based on national authorities, Eurostat and the Danube Commission.  

* for the Danube countries and the other countries the data refer to the year 2013 or 2012

Capacity of the Western European Cargo Fleet in 2014 (in 1000 tons)

Source: CCNR based on national authorities

European Fleet per type of vessel in 2014 (number of units)

Source: CCNR based on national authorities

Evolution of the fleet

The total capacity of the inland shipping fleet is keeping increasing, while the number of vessels decreased.This can be explained by the fact that new vessels are becoming much bigger. In the last 5 years, over 800 new inland vessels were added to the European fleet.

Number of vessels put in the market per type of vessel since 2008

Source: IVR

It is interesting to note that the tonnage of the fleet is quite different regarding on the type of vessels (dry cargo or tankers). Big tonnage are indeed quite widespread for tankers in comparison with the dry cargo vessels, as presented in the following graphic.

Structure of the fleet per size class in Western Europe 2014 *

Source: Calculation CCNR based on national authorities.

* % Share of the number of vessels that fall under the respective size classe