Funding cuts to affect German inland shipping

A €500 million shortfall in Germany’s waterway maintenance budget means that a number of “non-priority” canals may be forced to reduce their barge traffic. The Transport Ministry has said that waterways with “priority network” status, such as the Rhine, will be immune from cuts in funding but less busy waterways holding “main or supplementary network” status might have their maintenance budgets reduced. To qualify for “priority network” status a waterway must carry at least 10 million tonnes of goods annually for inland traffic and 50 million tonnes for ocean shipping waterways.

Carriers, ports and customers believe these proposals will significantly affect water-borne transport in Germany and force freight back onto the road. Barge traffic serving the ports of Hamburg and Bremmerhaven is likely to suffer in particular.