Het blijft spannend voor binnenvaartschippers op de Rijn

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De lage waterstand in de Rijn blijft binnenvaartschippers parten spelen. Het water staat nu ongeveer 6,50 meter boven NAP, terwijl de waterstand in oktober normaal gesproken zo’n 8,50 meter is. En het peil blijft dalen.

Het valt voor binnenvaartschippers niet mee om door te blijven varen, maar dat blijven ze – zo goed en zo kwaad als het gaat – toch doen. De schepen nemen al sinds juli minder lading mee en inmiddels vervoeren ze nog maar een derde van een normale lading.

Die lading moet strategisch verdeeld worden om zo lang mogelijk te kunnen blijven varen. Bij een normale waterstand helt een binnenvaartschip namelijk licht achterover, om beter door het water te kunnen manoeuvreren. Maar dat levert problemen op als de waterstand zo laag is.

“De schepen moeten nu waterpas varen”, zegt Dirk van der Plas van het Centraal Bureau voor de Rijn- en Binnenvaart. “De lading of de ballast moet daarvoor iets naar voren verschoven worden. Dan komt de achterkant van het schip wat omhoog. Anders komen ze niet over bepaalde hobbels heen.”

Hoe dat precies werkt, zie je in onderstaande infographic. Swipe naar rechts om het verschil tussen een normale en een lage waterstand te zien.

 

Grote binnenvaartschepen kunnen volgens Van der Plas tot maximaal 1,60 meter afstand van de bodem varen. En dat is spannend, want zover zitten we daar niet meer vandaan. “Als het water nog twintig centimeter zakt, dan kunnen de meeste schepen niet meer varen.”

Niet alleen de lading wordt aangepast om het de binnenvaartschippers gemakkelijker te maken. Schippers doen er volgens het CBRB ook goed aan om voorzichtiger te varen en elkaar niet in te halen. Ook langzaam varen is aan te raden: als je met veel snelheid op korte afstand van de bodem vaart, ontstaan er bepaalde effecten in het water waardoor het schip naar de bodem gezogen wordt. Dat is nu wel het laatste dat schippers willen.

Vrachtwagen en trein

Vanwege de aanhoudende problemen boren ondernemers ook andere vervoermogelijkheden aan. Vooral naar vervoer via de weg is veel vraag, zegt Quinten Snijders van Transport en Logistiek Nederland (TLN). Maar het is lastig om aan alle vraag te voldoen. “We lopen tegen de grenzen op van de capaciteit op de containerterminals. En het is lastig om een groot deel van de binnenvaart op te vangen met vrachtauto’s, want er zijn heel wat auto’s nodig voor één binnenvaartschip.”

Door de drukte bij de containerterminals staan chauffeurs soms zes tot acht uur te wachten voor ze hun lading krijgen en op pad kunnen. “Dat vraagt een hele strakke planning, want als je een tijdslot mist, loopt je hele planning in de war.” En dan is er ook nog eens een tekort aan vrachtwagenchauffeurs.

Ook op het spoor is het druk. “We zetten alles wat we hebben aan locomotieven, wagons en machinisten in”, zegt Cor Hoenders van Rail Cargo Information Netherlands. Dat kan met name bij grote bedrijven die veel vervoeren en hun transporten nu willen spreiden over water, weg en spoor. “Maar wij hebben natuurlijk geen voorraad voor als de Rijn laag staat.”

Ook laag op IJssel en Waal

De scheepvaartproblemen door het lage water spelen niet alleen op de Rijn. Ook op de IJssel en de Waal, vertakkingen van de Rijn, is het varen erg lastig.

Dit weekend is regen voorspeld in Zuid-Duitsland en dat is gunstig voor de waterstand van de Rijn. De hoeveelheid regen die gaat vallen is nog onduidelijk, maar Rijkswaterstaat verwacht een verbetering ten opzichte van het waterpeil nu.

 

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