Contargo has adapted its barges to cope with the low water levels that have plagued the River Rhine and reduced the volume of cargo that can be transported on the waterway.

Photo credit: Contargo


The Duisburg-headquartered logistics service provider has modified four of its barges by welding bespoke metal plates to the keel. This means that each barge has 10-15 cm of additional water beneath the keel in low water conditions. These barges can now transport 200-300 tonnes of extra cargo in low water conditions, said Contargo.


This also means that in these conditions, water no longer needs to be carried in the rear ballast tanks. Therefore, the barges can navigate the shallowest points of the waterway.


Cok Vinke, managing director at Contargo Waterway Logistics, said: “Periods of very low water like those we experienced last year lead to big reductions of the amounts that can be transported, and extra costs due to the purchase of additional tonnage and other transport capacities.”


He added: “Water levels in the Rhine have always been subject to seasonal fluctuations. However, in the interests of the transport industry and climate protection, goods transported by inland waterway needs to be strengthened. For this reason public policy must take the initiative and act as soon as possible to remove existing bottlenecks.


“In the current Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan, draft optimisation of navigation channels in the Middle Rhine is addressed as a priority need. We hope this will be implemented as soon as possible.”