Main waterway network

Main waterway network

The Netherlands has one of the busiest waterway networks in the world. Management and maintenance, construction, and traffic management are the three pillars of Rijkswaterstaat’s operations on the main waterways. This is necessary because goods transport and storage are important economic drivers and recreational sailing is growing.

Management and maintenance has the highest priority. The waterways must always be passable and safe, and journey times by water must be reliable. Rijkswaterstaat is also responsible for the construction and improvement of existing waterways, harbours and moorings. For the design of waterway sections, locks, bridges and inland harbours the Waterway Guidelines 2011 are available. 

Traffic management

The National Vessel Traffic Management Centre (NVTMC) manages shipping smoothly, safely and uniformly for all waterway users. It works together with the regional departments. At the request of the industry organisation and inland shipping sector, we use lock stewards during the summer. We also introduced remote operation at a number of locks. 

International cooperation

Rijkswaterstaat also cooperates across borders. Our waterways have to have good connections with the waterway networks of Germany and Belgium. We work with these countries to improve the infrastructure, shipping and flood protection. The Maritime Single Window (MSW) is the platform for electronic message exchange between market parties and government bodies. Notifications are delivered just once using MSW and are then used for multiple purposes by the government. With Germany, Belgium and other European countries, we are working on the international implementation of RIS (River Information Services). International agreements are being made in the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine (CCNR) on flood protection and the use of the Rhine.

In the north of the Netherlands, we are working intensively with Germany within the Ems Committee. Cooperation has also started in the Nieuwe Hanze region. In the east of the Netherlands, there is frequent consultation with Germany regarding the Rhine corridor. In the south, Rijkswaterstaat works with Belgium within the Permanent Committee of Supervision on Scheldt Navigation (PC). Talks are being held on improving the Ghent-Terneuzen corridor.