North Sea To Black Sea Waterway Set To Open

The opening of the Main/Donau Canal on September 25, 1992 will mark the completion of the longawaited Rhine-Main-Danube connection, a continuous and permanent modern inland waterway route that will allow barges and riverseagoing vessels to make the 4,500- kilometer (2,755-mile) direct passage between the North Sea and Black Sea.

Annual traffic between east and west is predicted to increase to 22 million tons a year, from a current level of 9 million tons. Current Traffic between northern and southern Europe through the waterways system amounts to 51 million tons a year.

However, some waterway traffic restrictions will be necessary due to channel size, bridge height restrictions, canal locks and high and low water conditions on the River Danube.

The Rhine corridor is the preeminent, inland commercial waterway system, carrying 330 million tons of cargo per year. German authorities are planning to improve their canal systems so that the Rhine will be linked to the Elbe, east Germany and Poland, while the French are interested in connecting the Rhone river to the upper Rhine.

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