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Old September 26th, 2007, 02:47 AM   #1
historyworks
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[Czech Republic] River Trade

I found this very interesting article on river navigation on the Labe/Elbe and the fact that trade in CZ is being restricted by the fact that it is the only country without access to the sea. Has anything changed since this was written (I think about 4 years ago)? Is it true Elbe is not navigable in Germany? Is there much river trade or activity in CZ? With development of Prague Marina it seems there might be more interest in the river system again?

Sorry for the long post - there was no direct html link to this article:

Aster J.: Inland Navigation on the Elbe River Waterway in the EU 25

Inland Navigation on the Elbe River Waterway in the EU 25
1. Existing situation
The Czech Republic is a landlocked state and the access to the sea has been traditionally secured by the Elbe River to seaports in Northern Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium using a network of inland ports on the European waterways. The Elbe River is located on the Fourth European Corridor. Parallel to the river is the most important railway connection to Northern and Western Europe and in the near future the Prague – Dresden highway. All mentioned communications belong to the TEN-T network. These strategic connections to Western Europe are crucially important for the Czech Republic economy. The importance has increased after joining the EU, as transport has steadily grown between the EU 15 and the new member states. After joining, the truck transport across the Czech-German border doubled, railway transport has grown quickly partly due to combined transport, when the number of containers to seaports and inland destinations has doubled every five years. However although there has been sharp increase in the volume of goods across the border, there has been a decrease in waterway haulage and usage due to insufficient Elbe River navigational conditions. The waterway transport on the Elbe River was severely hampered by forbidding dredging in FRG after the 2002 floods, when unremoved sediments in combination with low precipitation in the year 2003 prevented navigation for a long period. Czech and German vessel operators have suffered significant losses and had to sell part of their fleet and transfer other part from the Elbe to other West European waterways. Owing to these as yet unresolved problems on the Czech waterways, there are no resources for new investment and the proper maintenance of the fleets. There are also no financial resources for new investments to upgrade and modernise the ports.

Existing arrangement of EC programs in the Czech Republic does not allow the spending of finance from the Structural Funds into ports infrastructure to transfer them into modern trimodal terminals.

In the Czech Republic, there is 300 km of unused inland waterways with the value of 6 billion EUR, built up perfectly in accordance to European standards. The bottlenecks are the 40 km segment at the Czech-German border and the condition of complete German part of the river. In the Czech Republic, erection of locks has been planned and in the Germany removal of critical spots has been planned in 1992, but the navigational conditions are worse than in 1990 because of obstructions and objections by both Czechs and Germans environmental dogmatists.

2. Attempts to liquidate the Elbe River navigation.
In both the Czech Republic and Germany, there exists strong pressure groups who wish to eliminate the navigation of the Elbe River. Demagogic arguments and targeted propaganda influence a significant segment of the population and this has reflected itself in the behaviour of political representatives.

Opponents use as an argument, that the goods could be transported by railway. However, in reality there is a bottleneck in two rail segments in the narrow Elbe River valley at the Czech-German border and with the accessing of railways to German North Sea ports, of which Hamburg is traditionally the main port for the Czech overseas trade. The capacity of railway usage is approximately 90% and because of foreseen transport growth, the reserves will soon be exhausted.

The alternative solution, a high-speed train link construction through the Ore Mountains, is a perspective of long distance and optimism.

The situation on German roads is well known. A consulting company Cushman&Wakefield Healy&Baker evaluated FRG from the point of view of road traffic volumes as the worst in Europe. The Czech road transit communications are in a similar situation. The impact on environment is self-evident. The goods, which are not transported by ships, end up on
overloaded roads. The so-called environmentalists by their false arguments actually damage the environment.

According to navigation opponents, ships have to adapt themselves to the river regardless of Archimedes Law. Ships, successfully operating on the Elbe River for centuries owing to their accommodation for the Elbe River conditions, are so specific, that they are not competitive on West European waterways.

Inland navigability according to its opponents is the most harmful mode of transport from the point of view of environmental impact, even more harmful than road transport. Presumably, Elbe is a natural river regardless that our wise forebears more than a century ago have transformed it for navigation and that time there were more ships on Elbe than on Rhine. An example of an illustration of character regarding false statements on Elbe natural character: 6944 diagonal dams and 319 km of embankments were constructed on the Elbe River in Germany in one single year 1888.

Gloriously it is documented, that the Elbe is drying-up in the recent years, but when the research institute Forschungsanstalt für Gewässerkunde from Koblenz checked the statement, increased average volumes had been found.

Improvements, very carefully prepared with regard to their environmental impact, are presented as a damaging nature by overuse of concrete on the river and the last argument is that nobody wants waterway transport.

3. Waterway transport potential
To the above mentioned argument it is necessary to say that the best evidence on the potential for the transport of goods in the Elbe region are results of navigation from 2005, when relatively favourable water levels enabled transport in the segment between the Czech Republic and Magdeburg of 4.3 million tons. Transport across the Czech-German border has increased 60% and the main phenomenon was demand for transport, which the fleet, decimated by previous measures, was unable to satisfy.

That is the evidence which shows the potential for waterway transport, provided that there will be favourable conditions on the waterway.

The Czech Republic reports approximately 6% of annual increase in GNP. Very fast growing are transport intensive branches of industry like automotive and electronics assembly. There is more than realistic prognosis (PLANCO 2003), that the transport across the Czech-German boundary in the direction to Western Europe will double by the year 2015. The problems connected with managing of the transport situation in an eastward direction will continue to increase.

4. NAIADES as a last possibility for saving the Elbe river navigability.
On the Elbe River transport corridor there is environmentally friendly water-borne transport with thousand year of history liquidated and on the other hand, Europe is searching a solution of problematic transport situation on the continent exactly by supporting the inland navigation by launching the NAIADES Program.

a) Waterways
For saving the Elbe River shipping, the most important is to accelerate measures for improving the navigability of this European artery. Existing situation is a result of inactivity of state institutions caused by changing the goal posts and changing the parameters, when actually purpose-built administrative steps in the framework of construction planning permission and by blocking of release the financial means has wasted any progress. Fixed navigability to 160 cm water level for 345 days annually in the FRG and locks
construction in the CR are compromise targets, which could save the Elbe River waterway transport. These projects and measures are necessary to accomplish the co-ordination of procedures of both states and with EU support.

For prevention of further devastation of this transport mode, it is necessary to save the Elbe fleet of ships, specialised for this river, by the guarantee of subsidies for ship operators at the time, when conditions do not allow effective shipping operation until the navigation conditions will be improved. Notification process, initiated by the CR at EU is under way and is necessary to be completed as soon as possible. This Czech government program is not aimed only at Czech ships, but covers general support of all ships, which would operate under today's critical conditions.

If the fleet, specifically designed for the Elbe River, disappears, it will be one more argument on the side of waterway transport opponents for ceasing the steps for improving navigability. They even now demagogically misused the fact that transport has decreased in the last 15 years as evidence that operating waterway transport on the Elbe River is not necessary.

b) Ship modernisation
The preparation of support of the modernization of ships has started in the CR. The average age of ships is 40 years and the fleet is lagging behind in maintenance and requests large financial means for improving the safety and environmental standard of shipping operation.

c) Ports development
The same action is necessary to support the development the infrastructure of the ports. While in European countries the port infrastructure is financed by public sources, in the CR the support has been refused due to unsatisfactory privatization of public ports. It is necessary to find the model for support of port reconstruction and their adaptation into modern tri-modal terminals. At the same time, it is necessary to formulate the support of investors in ports with accent of branches operating with water transport affined goods.

d) Training of skilled nautical personnel
It is also important to support of training of the skilled work force. In the past Czechoslovakia kept a high standard of education for the skilled work force in inland navigation. Ship operators in Western Europe benefited from this fact, employing hundreds of Czech personnel. EU measures for their replacement and training in the CR will be a balance for the Czech contribution to the improvement of the qualification structure of West European shipping personnel.

e) Improving the image of the Elbe River navigation
This measure is of the utmost importance because of the previously mentioned long-term demagogical campaign of opponents of environmentally friendly waterway transport influenced the public opinion in both Elbe River states. Even oppositions of certain media is not favourable and this has contributed to the attitude of certain politicians, which even try to profile themselves on the measures aimed at liquidation of the Elbe River navigability.

5. Conclusions
The situation of inland navigation on Elbe River requires a vigorous solution and concrete measures.

In the case of further hesitation, there is a real danger, that the Czech Republic will be the only EU landlocked country without access to the seaports and the European waterways network by a navigable river. This would lead to unfavourable position of the Czech state and its economy in the EC framework. Several branches of industry, like the engineering of huge technical equipments, steel production, chemical industry, agriculture, and food processing would have impaired and non-competitive market conditions. The impact on food prices would affect every citizen of the Czech state. The negative environmental impact has been mentioned before.

It would be an anachronism to cease an environmentally friendly waterway transport with thousand of years of tradition, when Europe solves problem of transport collapse namely in the eastward direction.

It is rather ridiculous that while the EU framework revives a centuries old idea of waterway connection of the Elbe, Oder and Danube, the existing Elbe navigation disappears. In addition, the situation on the Oder River is also not too favourable.

An even bigger paradox would be that in the modern, united Europe the possibility of free operation of inland navigation principles would be devastated. Those principles guaranteed nearly a century ago by the Treaty of Versailles were respected regardless of turbulent political development in Europe and existence of totalitarian governments on the continent. Give the environment and common sense priority over vested interests and demagogy!

Jiři Aster
Chairman of the Waterway Transport Committee and Board Member of the Transport Association of the CR,
Vice-Chairman of the Regional Chamber of Commerce, Usti nad Labem
Board member of the Association of Chambers of Commerce Elbe – Oder
Vice-Chairman of the Economic and Social Committee of Usti region
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Old September 26th, 2007, 07:19 AM   #2
RawLee
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Whats the point in this,if CZ enters Schengen next year? Trucks will travel to the nearest riverport,thats all. Why is that matter if that is not in CZ?
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Old September 26th, 2007, 05:22 PM   #3
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Historyworks, very looong article. Dont have time to read it now. But want to answer your question in any case.

Based on my knowledge you will get from Prague to the Sea by boat. I wonder if they are discussing some specific size of boats. I know for example that river transport is done from Melnik north of Prague to Germany and the Sea. The rest of the country is pretty much cut off for big boats though since the rivers are not so deep. But we are talking about big boats that can trasport heavy products.

Thats my opinion based on stuff I read before. But will read your article and let you know more later if no one else will.
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Old July 21st, 2010, 05:26 PM   #4
Conni
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Danube-Oder-Elbe water corridor online

New website about the project of Danube-Oder-Elbe multipurpose water corridor was opened. Website aim to introduce the latest news, history and relevant information about this significant European project. On the website are many interesting and previously unpublished information, professional studies, photos and the archive of the Czech professional magazine Waterways and Inland Navigation. Website is available in Czech, English and German languages. Polish version is in preparation. Website was launched at the time when the Czech government approved the extension of the territorial reserve for the construction of the multipurpose water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe and the International Working Group DOE consisting of representatives of the Czech Republic and Republic of Poland was created.

More at: Danube-Oder-Elbe water corridor website


Or at Skyscrapercity: Water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe, Czech waterways


The place of grounbreaking ceremony for the Oder-Danube Canal on December 8, 1939 near Nowa Wieś close to Kędzierzyn.
From south to north is Gliwice canal with a wide mouth of a 6-km stretch of Oder-Danube Canal on left - a branch canal for the chemical factory in Kędzierzyn.


A flood diversion canal of the Oder river around Racibórz. It was built in parameters for navigation and will be used as part of Danube-Oder-Elbe water corridor.
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Old August 12th, 2010, 08:35 PM   #5
Kiribati22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conni View Post
New website about the project of Danube-Oder-Elbe multipurpose water corridor was opened. Website aim to introduce the latest news, history and relevant information about this significant European project. On the website are many interesting and previously unpublished information, professional studies, photos and the archive of the Czech professional magazine Waterways and Inland Navigation. Website is available in Czech, English and German languages. Polish version is in preparation. Website was launched at the time when the Czech government approved the extension of the territorial reserve for the construction of the multipurpose water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe and the International Working Group DOE consisting of representatives of the Czech Republic and Republic of Poland was created.

More at: Danube-Oder-Elbe water corridor website


Or at Skyscrapercity: Water corridor Danube-Oder-Elbe, Czech waterways

http://www.d-o-l.cz/images/stories/d...oad_poland.jpg
The place of grounbreaking ceremony for the Oder-Danube Canal on December 8, 1939 near Nowa Wieś close to Kędzierzyn.
From south to north is Gliwice canal with a wide mouth of a 6-km stretch of Oder-Danube Canal on left - a branch canal for the chemical factory in Kędzierzyn.

http://www.d-o-l.cz/images/stories/polsko2.jpg
A flood diversion canal of the Oder river around Racibórz. It was built in parameters for navigation and will be used as part of Danube-Oder-Elbe water corridor.
Great pictures and explenations

Last edited by Qwert; August 13th, 2010 at 01:41 PM.
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