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Latest “Blue Book” provides up to date information on European inland waterway network

Published: 05 October 2017

Inland waterways such as rivers, lakes and coastal routes can provide a sustainable complement to the shipping of goods by road and rail.  Transport by water is beneficial in terms of improving safety and reducing congestion, and offers lower energy consumption and better environmental performance. However, the use of inland waterways for shipping is still low, with only 6% of the total volume of goods transported in Europe from 2010-2015.

The third revised edition of the Inventory of Main Standards and Parameters of the E Waterway Network – commonly known as the “Blue Book” – released today, is a comprehensive guide to the development and use of inland waterways for international shipping in Europe.

Inland waterways can form an integral part of sustainable common multimodal transport systems for the shipping of goods, bringing significant environmental benefits. One way of supporting their further development is through the European Agreement on Main Inland Waterways of International Importance (AGN). The agreement, signed in 1996, establishes the minimal requirements for inland waterways in UNECE countries for inclusion in the E Waterway Network. The Blue Book, maintained and regularly updated by UNECE, is a key instrument for monitoring progress made in implementing the agreement. It contains technical characteristics of the inland waterways and coastal routes that are part of E waterway network, locks on inland waterways, and provides an up to date list of ports of international importance.

The third update of the Blue Book shows that the total length of the E waterway network has grown from 27,711km to 29,238km (2016 data) since its first publication in 1998.  Additionally, the share of E waterways complying with the standards set out by AGN has increased to 83% as compared to 79% in 1998. This is the result of coordinated activities of member States and ongoing work on major infrastructure projects, including the TEN-T Network which is overseen by the European Commission corridors. The increase in the use of inland waterways is also supported by the increasing number of Contracting Parties to AGN, which now stands at 19 following the accession of Serbia in 2014 and Poland in 2017.

The latest revision also contains lists of bottlenecks, where the fairway sections have not yet conformed to the AGN standard due to depth, width or low bridges, and missing links in the waterways network. It also contains up to date technical details of inland waterways, including agreed parameters of sections of transboundary rivers, and information about E ports, updated on the basis of information from member States and River Commissions.

The third revised edition of the Blue Book is freely available in English, French and Russian on the UNECE website: http://www.unece.org/trans/main/sc3/sc3res.html

It can be also consulted in an online database at www.unece.org/trans/main/sc3/bluebook_database.html. This database makes it possible to search, filter and export the E Waterways and E Ports data. An online map showing the data combined with different base maps (topographical map, satellite map) gives an overview of the E network at the pan-European level.

For further information, please contact:

Victoria Ivanova
Economic Affairs Officer
Sustainable Transport Division
Email: victoria.ivanova@unece.org
Web page of the UNECE Working Party on Inland Water Transport: www.unece.org/trans/main/sc3/sc3.html


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