The importance of inland shipping of goods is evident from the fact that approximately half of the total transport volume is carried via the European inland waterways. The opening up of new waterways like the Main-Danube link and the intensifying trade between West and East Europe provides new opportunities for this mode of transport, which has been in use for centuries. Additionally, now that environmental concerns have acquired substantial importance in European policies, inland shipping is being re-examined and re-evaluated in order to become, in the near future, the principal mode of transport. Such a shift from the currently prevailing road transport to waterborne transport is possible from at least an ecological point of view since inland ships generate less environmental damage than trucks. If economic factors and constraints are also satisfied, the percentage of transport volume carried by ships is expected to rise substantially. To meet the market requirements new ships have to be designed and built with low operational costs and the flexibility to operate profitably along the East European swallow waterways. Moreover, the currently operating fleet is considered obsolete and needs to be replaced within the next few years. A large consortium of ship builders, research institutes and end users have developed an innovative inland ship concept, named Inbiship™, with enhanced cargo volume, better fuel economy, many safety features and better working conditions for the crew. The ship is powered by diesel-electric engines and uses pod-type rudder propellers. With computer simulations and full-scale bench tests, a new hull shape was designed that is the best compromise between enhanced cargo volume and better hydrodynamic performance. The new ship can be effectively utilised at reduced draughts and in swallow waterways. Its performance is estimated to be at least 15% better than currently operating inland ships. The consortium is currently looking for collaboration with various market parties that will either order, built and further develop Inbiship™ or develop profitable transport chains based on the new ship concept. Furthermore, using the knowledge gained from the current model, new types of ships can be developed.
Common European inland vessel concept
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