Inland Waterways Transport Network (IW-NET)

Delivering improvements to the European Inland Waterway Network

Inland Waterways are the most energy efficient mode of transport and can significantly reduce transport emissions. By optimizing the infrastructure, barges and through facilitating the digitalization processes, inland waterways will become more attractive and will be able to carry more freight on the rivers in Europe. The IW-NET program will advance research, test solutions and apply these to increase the modal share of freight by inland waterways and support the European Union target to reduce transport greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds by 2050.

The IW-NET program is part of the Horizon 2020 research agenda of the European Union and is implemented from 2020 to 2023 by a consortium of 26 innovative companies, associations and research institutes.

What is Smart Freight Centre's role?

Smart Freight Centre (SFC) is a core member of the IW-NET program. Our activities include transferring best practice in GHG emission calculation and associated data collection from the GLEC Framework, and developing it to the specific context of the inland waterway sector. SFC will also lead the development of a roadmap for the IWT infrastructure developments up to 2030 in coordination with partners.

What will this project deliver?

  • Digitalization: delivering end-to-end collaborative models to allow synchro-modal solutions, including the application of IoT and Big Data Analytics. This will enable optimized planning of barge operations serving dense urban areas and navigating in uncertain water conditions.
  • Sustainable Infrastructure and Intelligent Traffic Management: delivering intelligent infrastructure and therefore reducing the uncertainty of the voyage. Solutions, utilizing the new digitalization framework, will be simulated and tested on how to improve the management of fairways, locks, and berths.
  • Innovative vessels: delivering new barge designs to enable autonomous sailing and improve the environmental performance. Specific solutions will be designed to allow a high degree of automation for urban distribution; push boats capable to navigate with low/high water levels; and advanced use of GALILEO navigation services for advanced driver assistance guidance.
  • Roadmap development, Capacity Building and Policy recommendations: Through extensive stakeholder consultations and the delivery of a European IWT development roadmap with policy recommendations for increasing the IWT share the solutions will be embedded in decision and policy making at Industry, Government and operational level.
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Why should you join this project?

Moving freight in Europe by inland waterways is one of the most energy efficient ways of transporting goods. By contributing to this project you can directly influence and collaborate with partners on how to make inland waterways in Europe more attractive. The benefits for companies and other organizations are:

  • Be the first to participate in new innovation in the digitalization, infrastructure and vessel design of inland waterways
  • Influence policy development at EU level concerning Inland Waterways
  • Increase your knowledge about inland waterways

Project timeframe

Activity and implementing timeframe

  • Prototype of the different solutions developed Oct 2021

  • Outline of the roadmap and recommendations presented Oct 2021

  • All innovations are developed and being tested in real life Oct 2022
  • All outcomes are ready and will be released Feb 2023
  • Final draft of the roadmap and policy recommendations Feb 2023
  • Complete roadmap, policy recommendations are presented April 2023
  • Final results are disseminated April 2023

How can you get involved?

For more information have a look at the project website or contact: Rik Arends,
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