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Entwicklungszentrum für Schiffstechnik und Transportsysteme e.V.


Development of an efficient and cost-effective system for transporting containers on inland waterways between the ports of Duisburg and Dortmund

The project for this innovative shuttle service includes not only the development of a suitable transport system but also all other relevant aspects such as market analysis, logistics concept, organization and analysis of economic efficiency and environmental consequences.

The volume of hinterland container transports between the western ports and NRW has reached a very high level, and further increases in transport volumes are expected in the future. A considerable part of the volume is handled by the Port of Duisburg, which serves as a hinterland hub. A large proportion of the containers, which are still largely transported by road in large numbers between Duisburg and Dortmund, could be shifted to the waterways by the Ruhrcargo shuttle service.

The main objective is to develop an efficient and cost-effective system for transporting containers on the inland waterways of the Ruhr region between the ports of Duisburg and Dortmund.

RuhrCrago operational area.

Rendering of RuhrCargo push train.

Method: After an analysis of the market situation, a logistics concept is developed, then the components of the system are technically optimized. The use of the transport system is demonstrated under the aspects of economic efficiency and reduced environmental impact and a strategy for implementation is developed. The work phases in detail: – Determination of the market potential – current and prospective (time horizon 2015). – Development of the logistics concept – Technical improvements – Transportation modes – Organizational improvements – Improvements to reduce environmental impact – Economic efficiency analysis – Strategies for the implementation of the system.

Among others, the following main results will be achieved: (a) Development of different circulation plans for the continuous container traffic between the ports of Duisburg and Dortmund. (b) Optimized design for the push barges under the aspect of construction costs; thereby also reducing the personnel costs for the construction of the ships, so that a production in NRW becomes economically possible. (c) Optimization of circulation planning – with crews remaining on board only during the working shift – in terms of turnaround time – in terms of unit costs. (d) Demonstrating the environmental impact in comparison with rail and road transport when conventional technology is used on the ships. Identify opportunities to further reduce environmental impact through appropriate technology, e.g., filter systems. (e) Cost/efficiency: – Determine the system costs and delivery times for the new vessels – in comparison to shuttle traffic with standard ships – in comparison with competing transportation modes

Impact: A realization of the concept will meet important objectives of the NRW Port Concept and of the Strategy Paper of the Metropole Ruhr: – Full, sustainable use of the waterways. – Development of innovative ships for better utilization of the existing infrastructure. – Strengthening the hinterland function of the Metropole Ruhr. – Reducing road congestion, as well as resource consumption and emissions.

CAD drawing of the RuhrCargo push train with dimensions and transport capacity.

Innovation content: The newly developed transport system uses specially designed push barges built in a simple design with high container capacity. The push barges are in continuous circulation between ports and are moved by several push boats each from section to section of the canal route. The crews of the push boats operate in relief mode, eliminating the need for accommodation on board. The high transport capacity of the connection and the low personnel costs drastically reduce the unit cost of the system, giving a competitive advantage over road transport in terms of cost.

Project duration:

  • September 2009 – August 2012

Funding framework:

  • EU-NRW Ziel-2 (EFRE) Förderwettbewerb „Logistik.NRW“


Collaborative partners:

The joint project RUHRCARGO was selected in the context of the Innovation Competition “Logistik.NRW” to receive funding from the NRW-EU Objective 2 program.

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    Development Centre for
    Ship Technology and Transport Systems

    Oststr. 77
    47057 Duisburg

    Tel.: +49 (0)203 - 99 36 9 - 0
    Fax: +49 (0)203 - 99 36 9 - 70

    E-Mail: dst@dst-org.de