Germany: A broken  down barge blocks the dried  up Rhine, threatening river traffic

Germany: A broken down barge blocks the dried up Rhine, threatening river traffic

A stranded barge blocked the Rhine in western Germany on Wednesday. The boat was immobilized at a crucial point for river navigation, which was already complicated due to the drought.

According to the water police, traffic on the section between St. Goar and Oberwesel between the cities of Mainz and Koblenz should be resumed during the day. The ship is not far from Kaub, a bottleneck of the Rhine for inland navigation and the location of the reference depth gauge.


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An important river for maritime traffic

With the drought, the water level has been below the critical threshold of 40 cm for a week, which makes river navigation more and more complicated. If the level on the gauge does not correspond to the actual depth of the river, this reflects its navigability: the lower the gauge, the less the barges can load, which reduces the capacity to transport, especially hydrocarbons.

The prospect of a partial halt to traffic on the Rhine, one of the world’s busiest rivers, is a new headache for German industry, already weighed down by Russia’s gas crisis and rising gas prices. Around 4% of goods are transported by sea in Germany.

The Rhine originates in Switzerland and crosses several countries, including France and Germany, before emptying into the sea in the Netherlands. The river has regained importance in recent months as Germany has increased its coal supply to reduce its reliance on Russian gas.