Water as a means of transport:
The German Federal waterways network consists of about 7,350 km of inland waterways and about 23,000 km2 of sea waterways. It is part of the trans-European network (TEN) of transportation routes on water. Waterways are an efficient, safe, and environmentally-friendly means of transport for national and international navigation. Sea ports are connected to international trade by sea-side access routes to the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts.
The continuing increase in traffic volume in sea and hinterland due to the globalised economy as well as rising inland traffic mainly related to EU enlargement in Eastern Europe require an efficient network of European inland waterways. Thus a major objective is to cope with the rising volume of total transport as far as possible by means of environment-friendly vessels and to optimise intermodality with railways and roads.
For instance, the current transport cost for a bottle of wine by ship from Chile to Hamburg is about the same as by rail or lorry from Franconia to Hamburg. The safety and ease necessary for transport on water are enabled by permanent observation of the state and economical maintenance of all objects in and along the waterways.
In 2003, inland vessels provided a goods vehicle distance travelled of about 64.2 billion tkm (tonne-kilometre) in Germany !? i.e. 17.8% of the total goods vehicle distance travelled (rail: 19.9%, lorry: 62.3%).