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DeConTrans - Inland navigation plan for the Ruhr area

Two research institutes in Nord-Rhein Westfalen have come up with a concept to decongest the roads and rail lines in the Ruhr valley, with small container barges to make more extensive use of the Rhine tributaries (Lippe, Emscher, Ruhr) and the network of canals

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The plan, called DeConTrans, has been developed by RIF (institute for Research and Transfer) and DST (Development Centre for ship’s technique and Transport Systems, both based in Duisburg.


There is a project to build a pilot barge and two terminals in Dortmund by 2021.


The project has received EU backing, as it could help reduce traffic in this heavily populated area (ca 12M) and, according to one estimate, cut fuel pollution by 60%. "Small, standardised electric powered vessels with automated mooring and handling will be developed, all based on existing, proven technology," said Ing. Rupert Hem, Member of the Board of DST.

Simple barge-truck transfer with small, automated crane
Simple barge-truck transfer with small, automated crane
One-high to ensure bridge height clearance throughout the Ruhr
One-high to ensure bridge height clearance throughout the Ruhr

Prof Dr Jürgen Rossmann, Member of the Board of RIF, explained that during the next 2-3 years a team of eight experts will work on optimising the complete logistics chain from (un)loading in riverside/canalside terminals to "last mile" road haulage. A virtual platform will be able to display different ways and means to achieve the goal, with the involvement of shipping companies, forwarding agents, port operators, administrators and trade associations.


“The project will be not only sustainable and support mobility, it will also further enhance the credentials of NRW for research and business location," said Michael Saal, Managing Director of RIF.

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