Liege Port Authority reports substantial increase in waterborne container traffic in 2011!

09 Feb 2012
Liege, 9 February 2012

Liege Port Authority reports substantial increase in waterborne container traffic in 2011!


Water container traffic in the Port of Liege, the largest inland port in Belgium and the third leading one in Europe, achieved another excellent performance in 2011: up 64%.

28,982 TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) is the score achieved by container traffic relying on the waterway system in 2011. This means a record increase of 11,358 TEUs over 2010.


This growth is a reflection of container traffic's global success and the dynamic impact of Liege-based container handling companies (more specifically Liege Container Terminal and Trilogiport Terminal SA). These two nationally and internationally renowned businesses offer a comprehensive range of services and organises regular shuttle services for containers towards the key European sea ports (Antwerp, Rotterdam and Zeebruges).


This increase also underscores the importance waterborne container traffic is set to assume in the future, thus underpinning the expansion of the Liege Trilogiport multimodal platform (100 hectares), which will be used by containers starting from mid 2015.


These figures also reflect the Port of Liege's potential to serve as a European logistics hub, and the city's status as a key link in the sea-river logistics chain.


Emile-Louis Bertrand, the Liege Port Authority's General Manager says: "Waterborne container traffic is continuing to go from strength to strength in Liege, making excellent progress in 2011. We are delighted to be able to continue developing this kind of transport system and diversify our traffic mix so as to create and, above all, guarantee many new sources of employment in the Liege region."

"Waterway" traffic in 2011 

The level of "waterway" traffic rose by 0.33% in 2011 to reach 15,503.576 tonnes in volume terms (or up 51,336 tonnes on the previous year) in spite of the impact of the crisis and the closure of the ArcelorMittal blast furnace.


The situation for waterway traffic in 2011 can be separated into two distinct periods:

-        The first half of the year was characterised by an obvious economic upturn and a steel industry that was a heavy consumer of raw materials resulting in an 11% increase in our waterway traffic.


-        The downturn in the Port of Liege's traffic in the second half of the year is attributed to slower growth and the permanent closure of the last ArcelorMittal blast furnace and the Chertal steel plant. These events meant a lot less iron ore being carried by waterway.

Mention should also be made of the exceptional drop in the water level last summer, and its rippling effect (lower draught on the Albert Canal, limited loads on vessels, higher transport costs for shippers…).


The higher level of waterway traffic is mainly ascribed to the outstanding first six months and the development of new cargo flows, such as quarry products and farm produce.


These new cargoes have offset the huge loss in the traditional "waterway" traffic related to the steel industry.


Detailed analysis of waterway traffic:

Waterway tonnage by category of goods


Agricultural produce


Coal and lignite


Timber and timber products


Coke and refined petroleum products


Non-metal mineral products


Machinery and equipment


Furniture and other manufactured goods


Secondary raw materials, waste


Transport equipment and materials


General cargo, containers


The main categories of waterway traffic goods showing an increase are:

-         agricultural produce (+ 101,793 tonnes, +15%);

-         chemicals (+ 49,109 tonnes, +29%);

-         mineral products (+ 462,197 tonnes, +8%);

-         metals (+ 42,767 tonnes, +4 %) and above all

-         general cargo and containers (+ 161,878 tonnes, +79%).


The main categories of waterway traffic goods showing a decline are:

-         coal (- 239,026 tonnes, -13%);

-         ores (- 306,339 tonnes, -19%);

-         timber and timber products (- 89,964 tonnes, -32%);

-         coke and petroleum products (- 118,798 tonnes,– 4%).


Detailed analysis of overall traffic (waterway-rail-road)

The Liege Port Authority continued to report a high level of activity in 2011 when the overall volume of traffic was 21 million tonnes. Down slightly on the previous year, the overall level of traffic handled in 2011 is nonetheless the fourth highest level in the history of Belgium's leading inland port (-0.5%, -114,942 tonnes).


Rail traffic in 2011 

1.554,116 tonnes of goods (-333,920 tonnes, or – 17.6% on 2010) were sent by railway. Railway traffic is dependent on the steel industry to a large extent. A huge decrease in the level of rail traffic is reported.


Road traffic in 2011

As is common during any crisis, the road traffic sector, which allows smaller volumes to be carried, boosted its market shares (+ 4%), to achieve 3,981,532 tonnes in 2011.


Growth in sea-river traffic

In the case of sea-river transport, 96 coasters (sea-going vessels) used the high-performance facilities on offer from the Port of Liege in 2011 (+9 units, or +10 % on 2010). This type of transport is now favoured by various Belgian and non-Belgians companies developing sales of special steels (imports from Spain and the United Kingdom and exports to the United Kingdom).


Liege Province's hub of socio-economic activity

The region's vital socio-economic artery, the Port of Liege complex generates over 26,000 direct and indirect jobs. The Liege Port Authority also creates value-adding opportunities galore thanks to the increased value the port complex generates. This is put at €2,694 million per annum (source: National Bank of Belgium).


Liege Port Authority, a vital player in the battle for sustainable development

These achievements also confirm the extent to which the river transport system is an environmentally-friendly and economic alternative.


Willy Demeyer, President of the Liege Port Authority says: "The year 2011 was generally good, in spite of the sharp downturn in the second half of the year and the uncertain economic climate. 

The upsurge in container traffic is very welcome news, confirming the importance this type of traffic is set to assume for the development of the Liege Trilogiport. These figures also reflect the Liege Port Authority's potential as a European logistics hub, while underscoring the quality of the port infrastructures and the dynamic impact of the port community's businesses."

Liege Port Authority develops a fully-fledged networking strategy

The Liege Port Authority is pulling out all the stops every day to develop a networking strategy to attract new cargo flows to Liege and enhance the region's status in the hinterland of the North Sea ports (Antwerp, Rotterdam, Zeebruges and Dunkirk). Against this background the Liege Port Authority is planning to cooperate closely with all the various sea and inland ports.


-        Grouping Economic Interest Trilogiport


-        Memorandum of Understanding with the Port of Antwerp

o   Aim: maximise the effectiveness of the logistics chain between Antwerp and Liege

o   Close cooperation on various issues (new technologies, transmission of information, joint communication campaigns…)

o   Signed in September 2011


-        Cross-border taxi barge

o   A proactive initiative to promote the expansion of container traffic on the Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Wallonia main stem between the  Port of Liege, the Port of Dunkirk, the Waterways of France the Public Service of Wallonia (DGO2)

o   The "river taxi" concept (waterway line with stopovers) is designed to link 12 sea and river ports (from Dunkirk to Liege) with a mixed offer of sea freight containers and combined transport, so as to develop door-to-door multimodal transport services.

o   Partnership charter signed in July 2011


-        "TEN-T" Core network

o   The  Liege Port Authority is featured in the Trans-European Transport  (TEN-T) Core Network thanks to its awareness-raising and lobbying campaign conducted in close cooperation with the Port of Antwerp and De Scheepvaart, targeted on various stakeholders (such as all the political forces at play in Wallonia and at federal level, the European Commission, the European Federation of Inland Ports, …). This European initiative will be a boon to the entire Liege region.

o   TEN-T: key role in the development of sea and inland ports

o   The Liege Port Authority is obviously aspiring to play a pivotal role within the European transport network, intent on asserting the key economic part it plays as an inland port and in the development of combined transport systems in Europe. 


-        Connecting Citizen Ports (CCP21)

o   Connecting Citizen Ports 21 comprising 7 European inland ports (Brussels, Lille, Paris, Liege and Utrecht, the Swiss Rhine Ports and the Basel-Mulhouse-Weil Rhine Ports)

o   Project duration: 4 years

o   Promoting connectivity and sustainable transport by optimising the organisation of freight logistics and the sustainable spatial development of inland ports.


-        Consolidation of the close cooperation between the Liege Port and the Scheepvaart for the development of the Albert Canal


-        Walloon ports platform

o   At the instigation of the  Liege Port Authority, cooperation with 4 Walloon ports (Port of Namur, Port of Charleroi, the Autonomous Port for the Centre and West and the  Liege Port Authority )

o   Promote more effective cooperation, a joint image, better exchanges of information (client-oriented approach, market research…)

o   Development of a Walloon ports coordination system


-        Port of Rotterdam

o   Review various opportunities for cooperation and consolidating existing traffic.


-        Port of Ghent

o   Review various opportunities for cooperation and consolidating existing traffic.


Lastly, the Liege Port Authority does its utmost every day to attract new cargo flows in the Liege region, thereby diversifying the port activities.


Hélène Thiébaut
Communications Officer
Liege Port Authority
Quai de Maestricht, 14 - B - 4000 Liege
Tel.: + 32 4 232 97 85 - Fax: + 32 4 223 11 09
Internet site: