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A flexible and environmentally friendly pusher/barge watertransport concept for freight transport on small waterways. complementary to traditional navigation (WATERTRUCK)
Start date: Oct 7, 2008, End date: Dec 30, 2014 PROJECT  FINISHED 

WATERTRUCK (WT) aims at introducing a new and environmentally friendly transport concept for inland navigation on small waterways (from CEMT Class I - 300tonnes - up and including CEMT Class IV - max 1500tonnes). The WATERTRUCK navigation concept is based on the deployment of small barges (up to 1500t) and small innovative pushers. The two most important characteristics and advantages in comparison to the traditional inland navigation with motorised inland vessels are: 1. no longer accomodation on board of the innovative. small pusher. 2. decoupling of loading/unloading from the navigation itself. The WATERTRUCK concept aims at tackling the biggest threats of the current traditional inland navigation. i.e. 1. rapidly disappearing of small inland vessels (up to and including CEMT Class IV) from the supply side of the transport market. 2. lack of intake of labour forces for inland navigation on small waterways (up to and incl Class IV). Due to the fact that the captain (or driver) of the small pusher can return home every day after his shift using a small vehicle. that fits on the small pusher. he no longer has the obligation to live permanently on board. This advantage will considerably facilitate the uptake of extra personnel for inland navigation. Decoupling loading and unloading from the navigation itself will result in opening up new shippers' markets. The disadvantage of tight time windows (a few hours) for loading and unloading of motorised vessels is thus overcome. Pre- and post transport by road can be organised in an optimal way as the pusher can remain in place as long as necessary (a few days). This advantage will show especially in large city centra and seaports where traffic by road often faces congestion. Achievements: Watertruck is proving that pushbarges are a viable way to transport goods through inland small waterways. The replace big vessels. As opposed to bigger boats, pushbarges allow skippers return home after work everyday. Because of its flexibility, the Watertruck concept can unlock new shippers' markets and perform well in the existing inland navigation markets. The impact of Watertruck is considered both by skippers and shippers vital to ensure future inland navigation on small waterways. Since the existing fleet of small vessels keeps on disappearing at a steady pace, a new transport concept was needed for guaranteeing continuity in terms of waterway transport of goods. Companies in the small waterways industry have expressed interest in implementing the watertruck solution and inland navigation companies have started to invest in the Watertruck concept. Both demand and supply models have been worked out showing the economic viability of many 'real live' industrial cases. Pilot projects in the Netherlands and Belgium have been successfully executed and have shown to a broad public the Watertruck potential. These pilots gave to the Watertruck project a clear visibility and a broad press attention.The positive outcome of the Watertruck project prepares the way for investments in Watertruck equipment such as the construction of small pushbarges and small pushboats in order to reach the final goal : implement Watertruck on an industrial scale.
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