‘Tank-to wake model to reduce emissions of all Rhine transport’

Green transport corridors are driving the integration of rail freight with inland waterway networks in Europe, as new roadmaps for development of the Rhine valley are showing the economic benefits of cross-border cooperation.

Analysis from the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) has shown that the eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants from the inland navigation sector will require the development of multimodal alternative fuel supplying infrastructure hubs as measures to support energy transition in rail freight drive benefits across transport methods.

“Investment in electric drive trains can be a good idea for the entire green transport corridor as you can choose direct electric power, batteries or fuels cells such as hydrogen,” Laure Roux, Administrator for economic affairs at the CCNR said, adding that “there is very active policy in some CCNR members states on financing land side energy infrastructure.”


The CCNR’s latest roadmap for reducing inland navigation emissions proposes adoption of a “tank-to-wake” model, that calculates the energy and emissions impacts for transport across all modes within the corridor helping to integrate the benefits of low-emission rail freight.

Funding this transition is set to be a major challenge across all transport modes over the next decade and Roux predicts that new financial frameworks will necessarily be developed at the regional level to support this shift, noting that “an idea being looked into is to setup a financial instrument to aid this development, based on mixed sources.”

Cecilia Braun, Director of Interregional Alliance for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor (EGTC) reinforced this during a recent panel event on cross-border cooperation for sustainable transport, noting that while a European fund to finance this development has not yet been established. “It is surprising that something like this does not yet exist” as “air to rail and road to rail are key targets that need to be put out there more often in order to drive behavioural change.”

Carbon-neutral Rhine-Alpine corridor

The EGTC has also recently developed a roadmap for a carbon-neutral Rhine-Alpine corridor and Braun highlighted the need for ‘long term goals’ and greater cross-border cooperation as well as the importance “to have very clear administrative goals”.

“Identifying and eliminating infrastructure capacity problems of rail freight transport on the Corridor is still key for reducing emissions by modal shift as some bottleneck areas negatively impact reliability and therefore curtail the uptake of rail freight,” Braun notes.

The CCNR roadmap meanwhile suggests that there will be a significant divergence in costs under differencing development scenarios within the Rhine valley transport corridor, adding pressure for funding for new networks to be accelerated. Under a ‘conservative pathway’, the CCNR expects a total accumulated financial gap of €€2.65 billion in the average price scenario, while for an ‘innovative pathway’ that involves accelerated development the total accumulated financial gap is forecast to reach €7.8 billion in the average price scenario.

Hurdles on the road

“The economic, technical, social and regulatory aspects all need to be tackled and we see three main types of challenges: legal requirement, voluntary measures and financial measures,” Benjamin Boyer, Administrator of ship technique at CCNR, said.

Headquartered in Strasbourg, France, the CCNR is an international organisation comprising five member states – Germany, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Switzerland – and works closely with the European Commission as well as other national river commissions.

Author: Malcolm Ramsay

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