Container pilot in River Vistula promoted IWT in Poland

As part of the EMMA Extension project, the commercial container transport took place on the Vistula River for the first time in history. Containers were transported from the seaport of Gdańsk to one of the factories in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region.

“The main goals of our pilot was to promote inland waterway transport in Poland as the most economical, safe and environmentally friendly mode of transport, to increase knowledge on the use of inland navigation services and infrastructure among cargo owners and shipping companies, and to promote activities related to the planned construction of the Bydgoszcz logistics hub and recognition of it as a hub of the TEN-T core network”, explains Rafał Modrzewski , Deputy Director of International Cooperation Department at the Marshal's Office of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region.

Apart from the promotion of inland navigation, the cruise had one more important goal: the practical testing of the possibility of waterway transport and cargo handling within the transport corridor.

First commercial pilot demonstrated potential for waterway transportation

The cruise began on the 6th of April at the Szczecinskie Quay at the Port of Gdansk. After an overnight stop in Tczew, the barge continued its cruise towards Chełmno, which was reached in the afternoon. The entire 150-kilometre-way from the Port of Gdansk to Chełmno was realised in about 17 hours.

“The hydrological conditions were stable, the depth for this type of barge was appropriate and the waterway was well-marked. It is possible for barge to sail from the Port of Gdansk to Chełmno in 15 hours, while the return cruise takes only 8 hours”, Modrzewski says.

The day after, on the 8th of April, twelve 40-foot containers (approx. 300 tons) were reloaded at the Vistula wharf in Chełmno. Six 40-foot containers were loaded onto trucks and transported to production companies. At the same time, six 40-foot containers were loaded on the barge and transported back to the Port of Gdańsk.

In this section, the River Vistula has class II navigability, 30 meters wide trail and the transit depth of 1,8 meters. Such parameters will allow for the full use of the shipping season and waterway transport.

“To ensure optimal technical conditions on the waterway, the regulatory structure on the lower section of the Vistula should be rebuilt and bottlenecks, meaning burdensome places for navigation such as thresholds and shallows, should be removed. Provided that the technical conditions of the route are ensured, it is possible to proceed with the full marking of the route by setting up bank and floating signs, introducing radar navigation and markings informing about clearances under the bridges, as well as adapting the waterway for night navigation”, Modrzewski states.

Creating appropriate conditions for navigation will allow for full use and adaptation of the rolling stock to the class of the waterway, which will directly translate into the size and tonnage of vessels.


Sustainable transportation attracted customers, shipowners and media

Along with wide media coverage (read more here), the cruise resulted in very good feedback from many actors interested in regular inland navigation.

“The key argument for customers to participate in the pilot was the environmental dimension of this form of goods transport and its innovation on the local market”, Modrzewski tells.

The efficiency of the set consisting of, for example, two barges carrying 30 containers weighing 24 tons, is much greater than that of transporting cargo by trucks (see table below):

Cargo transportation of 30 containers (720 tons)
route: Gdańsk-Chełmno (150 km) and back



Transport of cargo by 1 set consisting of a pusher and 2 barges

Transport of cargo by at least 30 trucks

1 captain and 1 crew member

The need to employ 30 drivers

Fuel consumption on the route Gdańsk-Chełmno-approx. 750 liters

Fuel consumption on the route Gdańsk-Chełmno-1,575 liters (with the average fuel consumption of a truck 35 l / 100 km)

Average fuel consumption per one 40-foot container on the Gdańsk-Chełmno route - 25 liters (including the operation of the aggregate)

Average fuel consumption per one 40-foot container on the Gdańsk-Chełmno route - 52.5 liters

Fuel consumption during the return way Chełmno-Gdańsk - approx. 216 liters

Fuel consumption on the Chełmno-Gdańsk return way - 1575 liters

Average fuel consumption per one 40-foot container on the way back - 7.2 liters

Average fuel consumption per one 40-foot container on the way back - 52.5 liters


“The potential of this solution raised the interest among domestic and foreign shipowners and representatives of the industry as well as entrepreneurs operating in the Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region”, Modrzewski concludes.



Emma Extension pilot - Vistula Cargo
EMMA Extension project partner: Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region


April 6th - 9th, 2021

Cruise patronage:

Ministry of Infrastructure

Polish Waters


Port of Gdansk

Polish Regions Association of Baltic-Adriatic Corridor

Polish Regions Associated along E70 waterway

The cruise in numbers:

  • Total distance: 300 km
  • Volume: approx. 300 tons
  • Number of 40-foot containers transported: 12
  • Container reloading time in Chełmno: approx. 2 hours
  • Fuel consumption:
    • during upstream cruise on the Gdańsk-Chełmno distance (set consisting of the Tur pusher* and the Galar 2 barge, 150 tons of cargo - six 40-feet containers) - 850 litres, including the operation of the aggregate at stops
    •  on the way back (downstream) with a similar load - 270 litres
  • Average fuel consumption during the whole cruise - approx. 42 litres / hour.
  • Possible time of reaching the barge from the Port of Gdańsk to Chełmno:
    • upstream 15 hours,
    • downstream 8 hours.
  • Load: medical, furniture, food sector


*According to the registration document of the Tur W-01 pusher, it can push barges with a total capacity of up to 2,000 tons. The amount of fuel used with a larger load and the number of barges pushed does not change significantly.

Press contact: 

Rafał Modrzewski

Deputy Director of International Cooperation Department
Marshal's Office of Kujawsko-Pomorskie Region

Tel. +48 56 62 18 487