INLAND NAVIGATION IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
The Czech Republic (CZ) is a landlocked country in the center of Europe. The main rivers flows are the Elbe River (370 km) and the Moldau River (433 km), the Morava River (246 km) and the Dyje River (306 km) in Moravia, the Odra River (135 km) and the Opava River (131 km) in Silesia. Commercial water transportation operates mainly on the Elbe River and the Moldau River. The main inland water transport operator is Československá plavba labská, a.s., based in Děčín.
The share of the waterborne transport in the transport of the CZ is not high, mainly due to incomplete inland waterway network infrastructure. Connection of the CZ to European inland waterway network has not been finished yet.
THE CONCEPT OF WATER TRANSPORT OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC
The Concept of Water Transport (The Concept) as a part of Transport Policy of the Czech Republic for 2014 – 2020 with the Prospect of 2050 deals with sustainable development of waterways and water logistics. The main objective of the Concept is to adopt measures for more extensive use of inland water transport on the important waterways in CZ.
The inland water freight transport should have better connections to the industrial centers and supply routes of urban areas. Development of tourist and holiday navigation as well as passenger water transport combined with land transportation is taken into account as well. The Concept also introduces national implementation of the EU NAIADES II action plan.
INLAND NAVIGATION ON ELBE RIVER WATERWAY
The Elbe water transport corridor from Pardubice to the Port of Hamburg, as a part of the Core TEN-T network, is important water route for an international trade. Improvement of 247 km Elbe navigability belongs among program priorities of the Czech Government. Navigability on the Elbe River corridor cannot occur all year round due to limited navigation conditions on sub-sections of the waterway, mainly in the Děčín section near the Czech – German borders.
In order to ensure an access of the CZ to the European inland waterways network and maritime ports, the CZ discuss a possibility to conclude an international agreement on the Elbe River between CZ and Germany.
MARITIME TRANSPORT AND PORTS
The CZ as an inland country has a limited access to the seaside and maritime ports. In 1998, at that time modern and relatively big national merchant fleet terminated its operation. Apart from the Port of Hamburg accessible by inland shipping via the Elbe waterway, the Port of Antwerp is used for overseas transport as an alternative for cargo transported by freight trains from and to the CZ. The Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands and the Port of Koper in Slovenia are another important seaports used by the Czech operators for bulk and industrial cargo.
The railway and road routes connecting the CZ with ports in Poland allow transport of mainly dry cargo for maritime handling in the Ports of Gdansk, Gdynia. Present development of LPG-LNG terminals has a potential to increase volumes and composition of commodities via Baltic seaports. Regarding still existing professional seagoing personnel, a specific attention is concentrated to the basic seafarer´s training and certification. There is also a numer of oceangoing yachts with Czech flag on the deep seas.
Since 1929, the CZ has leased from Germany the Moldauhafen and Saalenhafen in the Hamburg Docks for the period of 99 years. It provides a place for transportation of goods via the Elbe River. At present, the negotiations are under way between the German side and the Czech side on further development, investment and conditions of use. Peutehafen in the Port of Hamburg is owned by the CZ.
For many years now the Czech Republic has been trying to revive its inland waterways transport on the Elbe River, which has deteriorated since the 1990s as a result of various factors associated not only with the transformation of the Czech economy. As it is becoming more obvious that inland waterways must inevitably become an integral part of the transport infrastructure network in the Czech Republic, the Ministry of Transport is preparing several major waterways projects, which would stabilise the water level at critical sections and secure navigability for large part of the year.
The Donau – Oder – Elbe Water Corridor (DOL) is an international project with active participation of Poland and Slovakia and a vital cooperation of Germany and Austria. Economic viability and environmental aspects of the project are under review. The feasibility study is to be completed early in 2018. In the follow-up to the results of DOL study, the Czech Government will take a final decision on the project.
The Děčín lock is the most important project on the Elbe Waterway that should eliminate the Elbe missing link at cross-border section of the Elbe valley between the Czech Republic and Germany and allow for sustainable waterways operation from the Czech Republic all the way to the Hamburg port. The project has been in preparation for several years due to some disputes over ecological impact of the project.
Ministry of Transport of the Czech Republic