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Brussels, 7 June 2004

Inland waterway transport: Commission boosts modern information and communication services
The Commission proposed today new legislation on harmonised Traffic Information Services (“River Information Services” - RIS) on inland waterways in the European Union. RIS will contribute to the modernisation of the network and make inland waterway transport a competitive alternative and a valuable partner in the intermodal transport chain. Vice-President Loyola de Palacio expects that the proposal will be supported by the Member States. “River Information Services can really increase the safety, reliability and efficiency of inland waterway transport, and thus improve the competitiveness of this cheap, economical and environmentally friendly transport mode”, she said.

The newly proposed directive aims at establishing interoperable information services on long distance routes of the European inland waterway network. This goal will be achieved by establishing common guidelines and specifications for the planning and provision of such services. It will allow the user, the seamless harmonised use of services across borders, such as in the long run along the 3000 km long Rhine-Main-Danube corridor, from the North Sea to the Black Sea. The systems developed will be compatible with the maritime systems, so a seamless service will cover all waterborne traffic in the European Union.

Based on advanced information and communication technologies, RIS will include, amongst others, information regarding the navigation conditions of the waterways, the actual traffic situation in the immediate vicinity of a vessel as well as strategic traffic information important for planning of voyages, including lock, port and terminal scheduling. They will also allow for enhanced cargo and fleet management and the tracking of vessels and shipments. Data such as the position and heading of the vessel, ship’s name and speed as well as information related to the cargo will be captured electronically and processed automatically.

Many economic and environmental benefits are expected from RIS. Vessel operators will have their navigational operations supported. Shipping companies, ports and logistics companies will be able to optimise their transport and logistics processes and to offer the industry high quality services at lower costs. Through better planning of voyages, waiting times at locks and ports are likely to be reduced, traffic speeds adapted and fuel consumption optimised.

The concept for RIS was first developed under the EU Research and Technological Development Programme and is now being gradually implemented on inland waterways in several Member States. In order to ensure a harmonised and interoperable deployment of RIS the Commission decided to propose a common legal framework.

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