Trailer on Barge Shuttle

The VIL project ‘Trailer on Barge Shuttle’ aims to provide an innovative alternative in congestion sensitive areas in Flanders by shuttling empty and/or loaded trailers by barge over relatively short distances by means of a ro-ro (roll on – roll off) concept.

status: Closed | theme: Hinterland Connection | type: Regional

The transport sector today is being confronted with a rising transport demand. Meeting this demand is a difficult task due to multiple factors: driver shortage, increasing congestion on our roads which raises the amount of hours lost in traffic and the total amount of time it takes to complete a transport order. In other words, on the suppliers side it is necessary to make optimal use of the current transport capacity.

Barge as an alternative

More often inland shipping is seen as an alternative transport mode, because there is still capacity available. There are already efficient solutions being offered for bulk and import / export containers, but for piece goods it is more difficult. Currently this cargo is usually transported by trailer. To realize this via barge, overloading is necessary, which equals extra handling and costs (infrastructure, material and qualified staff). Next to this, it also means a big number of pointless kilometers over the road such as repositioning empty trailers, that also cause traffic jams.

Goal and opportunities

The goal is to develop a simple and low-threshold concept with expansion possibilities. The aim is to “look to inland shipping in a different way” and to emphasize the synergy between road transport and inland shipping.

The axis between cities such as Genk – Hasselt – Antwerp – Brussels – Ghent show potential so far, in respect to the current congestion problems on one hand and the availability of class V and VI waterways on the other hand. Extra shuttle services within service ports can also provide an interesting alternative.



  • A ro-ro service that shuttles trailers over short distances via inland shipping in Flanders is technically viable.
  • At this moment the unique concept is however unable to compete with the prices of doot-to-door transport.
  • The Flemish waterways lack the necessary infrastructure and also ships need to be adjusted to this concept.
  • The inland waterway vessels currently available have too little loading capacity and are only used for exceptional transports
  • To make a ro-ro service line successful, sufficient volumes must be transported. This is possible by bundling goods flows of different companies.
  • Elements that contribute to the success of a ro-ro service line are: smart planning of routes so congestion-sensitive traffic junctions can be avoided, efficient deployment of people and materials, and using new, innovative and ‘future-proof’ technologies.
  • This project has proven that there is an interest in the concept of ro-ro shuttle and there are opportunities to make it work. Long term cooperation between shippers, transport companies and inland shipping companies are crucial for an effective start of this sustainable concept.


Start: February 2019
Total lead time: 17 months


Twelve companies: Alders International Transport, BCTN, De Vlaamse Waterweg, DFDS Seaways, Group GTS, Haven Genk, Kerkstoel 2000+, POM Limburg, Recupel, SBD Logistics, Transport Mervielde en Vollers Belgium.





VIL stands for strong logistics in Flanders


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