An assessment methodology for a modular terminal concept for container barging in seaports

Adrien Nicolet*, Peter Shobayo, Edwin van Hassel, Bilge Atasoy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Container transport via inland waterways currently faces several challenges affecting its competitiveness with other modes. These challenges include the high waiting time experienced by container barges and the low priority given to container barges in deepsea ports. To mitigate these challenges, a new concept known as the Modular Mobile Terminal (MMT) is introduced to create a dedicated floating barge handling and consolidation space for containers in deepsea ports. Based on this, the present study proposes an assessment methodology examining the feasibility of the MMT from a logistical and economic perspective. In doing this, a time optimization model was developed to determine the number of MMTs leading to the most time savings for container barges. It also helps target a market by finding the hinterland flows that can be positively linked to the MMTs. Afterward, an economic evaluation is conducted to determine the cost savings for the actors and determine under which conditions the actors would benefit from using the MMT system. The proposed methodology is then applied in a case study for the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam to derive insights into the efficiency and profitability of the MMTs. Results revealed that the MMTs would be most suitable for vessels transporting small cargo volumes below 60 Twenty Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs). Furthermore, the analysis suggests that two MMTs would be optimal for the port of Antwerp, and four for the port of Rotterdam, to achieve an overall net benefit for all the actors. Thus, it can be concluded that the MMTs are most suitable for handling and consolidating cargoes from container barges with small call sizes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101103
Number of pages16
JournalCase Studies on Transport Policy
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Container barges
  • Cost savings
  • Deepsea terminal
  • Hinterland transport
  • Modular terminal
  • Time optimization


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