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Water Transport Benefits

Why Use the River?

Water transportation provides tremendous carrying capacity while consuming far less energy compared to other modes of transport such as truck, rail or air. Shippers select barge transportation because these energy efficiencies lead to substantial cost savings. One gallon of fuel can move one ton of cargo 514 miles by barge compared to 202 miles by train and only 59 miles by truck.

Compare Water Transport to other Modes

Roadway congestion is decreased as freight is transferred to waterways where significant capacity is available without additional infrastructure expenditures. Water transportation stimulates the regional economy through attraction of new industries, jobs and growth in the tax base.

Unit Capacities

A fully loaded covered-hopper barge can carry enough wheat to make almost 2.5 million loaves of bread. That is nearly enough product to provide a loaf of bread to nearly every Kansas resident. A loaded tank barge carrying oil can satisfy the current annual gasoline demand of approximately 2500 people for one full year.

Standard Modal Freight Unit Capacities
Modal Freight Unit Standard Cargo Capacity
Highway - Truck Trailer 25 Tons
Rail - Bulk Car 110 Tons
Barge - Dry Bulk 1,750 Tons
Barge - Liquid Bulk 27,500 BBL

Energy Efficiency

The marine fuel efficiency rates are based on TVA energy consumption data; the railroad efficiency rates are based on an analysis of railroad industry, Surface Transportation Board (STB), and Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) data; and truck efficiency rates are based on EPA MOBILE6 data.

Miles Per Gallon Carrying One Ton of Cargo
Mode of Transport Ton-Miles / Gallon
Truck Freight 155
Railroads 413
Inland Towing 576

Safety Impact

Both rail and truck statistics include incidents involving only vehicular crashes or derailments. However, the waterborne database reports incidents resulting from a wide variety of causes.

Ratio of Fatalities by Mode of Transport
Mode of Transport Fatalities
Truck Freight 155
Railroads 22.7
Inland Towing 1
Ratio of Injuries by Mode of Transport
Mode of Transport Injuries
Truck Freight 2171.5
Railroads 125.2
Inland Towing 1