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An outlook to future - The D-O-E waterway in the European waterway network PDF Print E-mail
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The D-O-E waterway in the European waterway network

To consider the role of the D-O-E water corridor in the future network of internationally important waterways, it is safe to keep in with the quoted agreement AGN, which defines such waterways (i.e. waterways of category E) rather clearly. The map, which is included in the agreement, shows at first gland the central position of the D-O-E interconnection. Realization of the project, which might be one of the major missing links, will effectively contribute to increase of the transportation output in the European navigation network, as well as to provide for sustainable development of transport.

Mapa hlavních evropských vodních cest 

Map of major European waterways by the AGN Agreement

Careful readers will naturally remain sceptical and demand more convincing arguments than a glance at a map. Let us offer a more profound analysis. The above presented graphs e.g. illustrate a noticeably dominating role of the Rhine, which concentrates much more transportation activity than other waterways. It is a fact that currently this river on the German and Dutch border moves about 160 mill. tons of goods per year. No other continental traffic route, nor the most frequent railway or motorway, features such traffic density. The Rhine superiority does not lean only on the remarkably convenient operation qualities of this waterway, not even on its favourable routing through highly industrial areas with its final destination in almost the largest world seaport of Rotterdam.

If you wish to follow the different employment of water transport in Europe and explain its causes, it is necessary to adjust the AGN map of the E category waterways and mark down the traffic density of each main route. Traffic density represents the amount of goods, which passes through given sections every year. Although the Rhine rate reaches the highest, interesting results are scored even on its tributaries and connecting canals, on the Maas, and on the waterways of Holland, Belgium and France. Most often, it concerns areas where waterways came to life in the historically convenient time, often still in the “pre-railway” era, although not as early as in Britain. They became the main arteries of industrial revolution, grew into a coherent network and later, along with the development of railways, they were constantly modernized.

As the industrial revolution was slower to come in Central and Eastern Europe, the railways, which network was easier and faster to build with a generous state assistance, already took the role of the main carrier. Thus, promoters and builders of modern waterways missed the most convenient historical opportunity and had to fight a certain unfair competition of the state railway companies. The fate of the D-O Canal project, designed for the Anglo-Austrian Bank, is just one of the examples. As some historical waterways never got a chance to have their navigability improved, their navigation often completely vanished, e.g. on the Vltava from České Budějovice to Prague, on the Lower Morava, and even on one of the largest European rivers – on the Vistula, which is, with the exception of few fragments, practically innavigable.

The Elbe navigability from Ústí nad Labem nearly to Hamburg is barely satisfactory; navigability of the regulated Oder below Wrocław then totally unsatisfactory. The transport importance of such waterways is naturally minimal and their low employment quite understandable. The traffic density of the Elbe reaches approximately 0.5 % of the Rhine figures, and it is even lower on the Oder. The same is true about connection canals between the Oder and Vistula Rivers (Bydgoszcz Canal), neglected for decades, with almost a zero traffic. It is becoming quite clear that unless there is some radical move, the gradual decay of Central European waterways will become an irreversible process.

The waterway network of the expanding EU will then stop in the Berlin or Stettin area. The Danube will become the only waterway running eastward, however without any network of feeder routes. It could very well happen, that the future waterway map will mark the entire area between the Danube and the Baltic with “hic sunt leones”, which ancient geographers used to write over unexplored territories, where “only lions live”.