INE Director-General, Karin De Schepper, said: “So-called multi-modality, where water is treated alongside rail and road as an integral element within a single transport system, has received plenty of lip service over the years. But in the past the waterways part of the mix has consistently missed out at implementation level, which has in turn led to more and more congestion on the roads.
“If the Commission is serious about integrated transport, it is essential that co-ordinators be given binding instructions to include canal and river transport. Otherwise we will simply see a repeat of the waterways being forgotten and underused, despite the economic and environmental advantages they offer, with more roads around seaports grinding to a halt.”
The proposals are part of the European Commission’s new Transport Infrastructure Package for 2014-2020. It contains new plans for trans-European network guidelines, and the Connecting Europe Facility. In the proposal, EUR31bn of EU and member state resources will go into moving both people and goods in future in as sustainable way as possible.
De Schepper continued: “INE welcomes the Commission decision finally to include all major waterways in the core network of Europe’s transport infrastructure. It is an important step forward to create high-quality waterway infrastructure.
“But we must ensure real multi-modality, where goods can easily be transferred between trains, trucks and inland ships and barges. This will mean a strong break with the past, where a paper commitment to the waterways has not been forthcoming in practice. It will require strong multi-modal governance, with coordinators taking a holistic approach.”