Konings, R., Priemus, H. (2008). Terminals and the competitiveness of container barge transport. Transportation Research Record, 2008 (2062), 39-49.
Low-cost operations have traditionally formed the competitive edge of inland shipping. Because of the exploitation of these comparative advantages, the barge sector has succeeded in gaining a substantial market share in container transport. The cost and quality performance of terminals play a major role in improving the competitiveness of container barge transport. Terminal handling is a major cost frontier because the share of terminal costs in the total chain of costs of barge transport is relatively large. The handling of barges in seaports is especially expensive. To enable new types of cost-efficient barge services, additional functions for terminals come into play (i.e., there is a new challenge for the functional performance of barge inland terminals). This paper explores the future requirements and opportunities of barge terminals to improve further the competitiveness of container barge transport. The relationship between barge network design and terminal design is relevant. Based on a review of the major cost drivers in barge handling and the role of terminals in barge service networks, new challenges for container barge handling and possible solutions are discussed. A major conclusion is that a differentiated approach is needed in developing new terminal and handling concepts. The major drivers for this differentiated approach are the container volumes to be handled and the position of the terminal in the network.