41-42/2017 Take heart and be constructive
The omnipresence of media coverage of the German general election overshadowed the anniversary of a major transport industry event from a quarter of a century ago – the inauguration of the last section of the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal on 25 September 1992. Max Streibl, the head of the Bavarian government, opened the 171 km inland waterway. The idea of a pan-European shipping route, from the North to the Black Sea, had been a vision for policy-makers since Charlemagne, the founder of the Carolingian Empire who died in 814 AD. Even today, however, the last doubts concerning its economic feasibility have not been eradicated. Resolutions from Brussels have declared the canal one of the five crucial pan-European waterway projects. Despite this – or perhaps because of it – EUR 2.3 million flowed into the waterway between 1960 and 1992.
And rightly so, the German inland waterway transportation association BDB said on the anniversary, pointing out that an average of 6.7 million t of goods is transported on the route annually. “This has significantly exceeded pre-construction expectations,” the BDB added. The canal’s critics have pointed out a downward trend (to 4.6 million t in 2016); have only credited the canal with a role in social benefits arising from a rise in cruise ships through the structurally weak region; and even consider its massive interference with the environment an “economic and ecological disaster”. The critics’ voices seem to be louder these days – the planned further expansion of the Danube between Straubing and Vilshofen probably won’t even propel the waterway to the centre of any dispute in the run up to the Free State of Bavaria’s parliamentary elections in autumn 2018.
Elections are one thing; another one is the next national and state governments managing the balancing act between investments that are really necessary and unreflected activism in the face of dilapidated transport infrastructure – though admittedly not all of it. There’s no dearth of issues in Germany that need to be addressed, it’s true, as you’ll see when you read our Special on the country (see page 30), produced to coincide with the German Logistics Congress that is taking place in Berlin at the end of this month. But our Special also illustrates what makes Germany one of the world’s leading logistics nations.
A few pages later we focus our attention a little further east, on Poland, analysing the current status of the transport and logistics situation there too.
Enjoy your read! Yours,
Head of airfreight