Reference Actions of the EUSDR Action Plan
(European Commission's Document SEC(2010) 1489, December 2010):
"To complete the implementation of TEN-T Priority Project 18 on time and in an environmentally sustainable way"
"To invest in waterway infrastructure of Danube and its tributaries and develop the interconnections"
"To improve comprehensive waterway management on the Danube and its tributaries"
The upgrading and maintenance of the waterway infrastructure and the waterway management are national responsibility. On the international level this is primarily governed by the TEN-T Regulation (1315/2013). Other relevant provisions are to be found in the “European Agreement on Main Inland Waterways of International Importance” (AGN) (ratified by all Danube riparian countries except for Germany) and the “Recommendations on minimum requirements for standard fairway parameters, hydrotechnical and other improvements on the Danube” of the Danube Commission.
The Network of Danube Waterway Administrations (NEWADA) additionally formulated recommended “NEWADA duo minimum Levels of Service” in 2014. National waterway managers are responsible for the compliance with the applicable regulations and provisions within their jurisdiction. In addition, waterway managers are urged to apply an integrated approach, including viewpoints from all relevant interest groups (navigation, environment, tourism, flood protection, etc.) and considering relevant legislation from other sectors (Natura 2000 network, Habitats-Directive, Floods Directive, EU Biodiversity Strategy, etc.).
Due to the intense dynamics in the free-flowing river sections, the morphology of the riverbed and thus fairway depth and/or width may change rapidly. High water levels, measured at static gauging stations, do not automatically guarantee sufficient fairway depths over the fairway width which is required for navigation. Apart from river engineering measures, regular maintenance and rehabilitation works are necessary to provide the required fairway parameters under the given hydrological circumstances. These activities should be conducted taking into account the Joint Statement Principles (see below under "relevant / ongoing activities").
In 2014, Working Group 1 elaborated a key document for Danube navigation: the “Fairway Rehabilitation and Maintenance Master Plan for the Danube and its navigable tributaries”. It lists the most critical locations for navigation along the Danube and defines the medium-term measures necessary in the field of waterway management, in order to solve these obstacles to navigation. In 2014, the Master Plan was endorsed by a large majority of the Danube Transport Ministers which represents a strong political statement. This endorsement was gained again in 2016. The Transport Ministers reaffirmed their assurance of the necessary financial means on a national level for the proposed measures. The implementation status of the Master Plan is monitored twice per year by means of the National Action Plans. (Further information about the Master Plan and the National Action Plans can be found under documents.)
Relevant ongoing projects and initiatives to improve fairway conditions (c) viadonau
Buoys and landside signalisation are the most important aids to navigation on site. Also display boards with depth information or height under bridges provide valuable information to skippers. The waterway user's point of view is the foundation for regular marking activities, in order to optimally place these aids, user information provision and projects aiming to improve on site information by means of new equipment and technologies.
Due to the dimensions of the waterways, all locks on the Main, the Main-Danube Canal and the German Danube are locks with one or two consecutive chambers (with the exception of Jochenstein and Kachlet). Necessary revisions therefore result in temporary closures of navigation. All other locks on the Danube, the Danube-Black Sea Canal and the Poarta Alba-Midia Navodari Canal are locks with two lock chambers, resulting in longer waiting times for vessels in case of revisions. Maintaining the lock infrastructure while ensuring undisturbed navigation entails substantial organisational efforts.
Several locks in Germany were constructed about 80 years ago and also other locks on the Danube and the navigable canals have reached their technical service lifetime, necessitating successive capital overhauling.
Public berths for cargo and passenger vessels
Upgrading the berths' physical infrastructure and providing additional services in the future (e.g. on-shore power supply facilities) would significantly enhance user-friendliness.
Most bridges in the Danube Region are passable also at higher water levels. However, a few cause difficulties to skippers and accidents happen every other year. Wherever technical modifications of the bridges are not possible, real-time user information is crucial to ensure the safety of navigation.