Source: adapted from “The future of freight transport and inland shipping in Europe 2010 – 2011”, Dutch Inland Shipping Information Agency.
The relatively short hinterland distances serviced by European ports, often less than 600 km (most common distances between 450 and 1200 km), are reflected in the modal split where trucking dominates. However, as traffic increases, this modal dominance is associated with congestion at terminal gates and involves higher energy consumption levels. In recent years, several strategies have been implemented to diversify modal options towards rail and barge, supporting better economies of scale and being more energy-efficient. This is particularly the case of Antwerp and Rotterdam along the Rhine – Scheldt delta, which has enabled them to develop inland barge services that now account for more than 30% of the container transshipped at the ports. Ports that have grown recently, such as Constanza, Bremerhaven, and Zeebrugge, have been able to better integrate with hinterland rail connections since on-dock or near-dock facilities were part of the terminal design. Comparatively, North American ports concern much longer distances.