“Amsterdam Vaart”: Port as a hub for construction logistics

Port of Amsterdam, the municipality of Amsterdam, Waternet and TNO have joined forces in the pursuit of cleaner and smarter city logistics. Under the name Amsterdam Vaart, the parties are looking at the possibilities of construction transport over water. In addition, the port authority is involved in various sustainable initiatives in the field of urban distribution and circular construction. Commercial manager Kim Borgmann of Port of Amsterdam talks about these innovative projects.

“The canals of Amsterdam were literally made for transport, but nowadays they are only used for canal cruises and pleasure craft. Construction and goods transport is done by road, but that is polluting and stressful for the already weak quays and bridges.

Deck barges

Many current and future construction projects in Amsterdam are located directly on the canal or on the IJ. Consider, for example, the IJ Towers in Amsterdam North, the area around Central Station and the Zuidas, with the Schinkel next to it. These kinds of locations are therefore very easy to reach by water. That is why we have worked with Port of Amsterdam, the municipality, Waternet and TNO to look at the possibilities of construction transport over water. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management subsidizes this research.

The port of Amsterdam, and in particular the Coen and Vlothaven area, can serve as an excellent hub location for contractors. The suppliers bring their goods by ship or by axle to that hub, where the cargoes are combined and brought to the construction site as one load per ship. This reduces the number of transport movements and thus CO2 emissions. The deck barges are electric, or at least largely run on green fuel.

Project partners

In this project we work together with a number of large contractors and nautical service providers, who themselves also invest in this sustainable development. For example, contractor De Nijs already works with transport boats, they are now working on the Geldersekade on a large project that is entirely about water. Deck boat rental company Blom is involved in the construction of the new Booking.com office on the IJ, where, among other things, sand and concrete piles are supplied by boats. Foundation company Van ’t Hek recently realized a construction hub for water transport in the Coenhaven. And Blue Line Logistics is developing electric ships for transport over water, they already regularly sail from Belgium to the Netherlands with a delivery of plasterboard. We are also in talks with PK Waterbouw, they are also focusing on their initiative Zoev City on urban distribution and construction logistics over water.

More and more parties are therefore switching to water transport, and we are always looking for new partners for Amsterdam Vaart. The Rutte Groep is certainly also on our wish list, with their concept of city barging .

Zero emission

Naturally, we strive for zero emissions with Amsterdam Vaart, which is how we came into contact with the Board. I dare not say whether that will also be successful before 2025, in that respect we are still at the beginning of the transition to smarter and cleaner city logistics. But the greater water transport becomes, the more contractors dare to invest in their arsenal. For the time being, we are focusing on construction sites right on the water, because we believe that the transport over the otherwise remaining last mile is still too expensive. There is already an extra action in the transfer at the hub, if you also have to go through the city afterwards, you cannot complete the business case.

Role of the municipality

The municipality plays a major, active role in the success of this project. In the area around the Central Station, for example, very strict access rules for construction traffic by road apply, making water transport an interesting alternative. Together with Waternet, the municipality is looking at an integrated policy for passenger, pleasure and transport shipping, which clearly states who is given which space. They also promise to take a critical look at alternative transport in their own tender.

TNO’s figures are essential in government decision-making: TNO continuously researches the concrete effect of water transport on transport movements and air quality. We have now submitted a new proposal to the ministry to further roll out this project in the region. In that case, it becomes the ‘Amsterdam Vaart Metropolitan Area’.

Sustainability ambitions

Port of Amsterdam is working on smart and clean city logistics in more areas. For example, we are looking at the possibilities of transforming the transport center at Gyroscoopweg into an area from which urban distribution can take place. Warehousing in Amsterdam is becoming more and more expensive, so it is interesting for companies and logistics service providers to move their storage outside the city. And we stimulate and facilitate circular construction: reusing building raw materials, instead of incineration. For this we work together with waste processor Paro en Beelen, who are already very active in that field.

As a port company, we work with contractors to see how we can attract interesting parties, companies and cargo flows for the port area and achieve sustainable transformations. After all, we are not only the port of Amsterdam, but also for Amsterdam. Almost 60% of all raw materials that arrive here are processed directly in the environment. We are a port for the entire metropolitan region **, for which the municipalities have drawn up all kinds of sustainability ambitions. With its projects, Port of Amsterdam is happy to make a substantial contribution to those ambitions. ”


Series of interviews

This interview is part 6 of the series ‘smart and clean city logistics’ with which the Board makes visible what is already happening in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (MRA). Our ambition is for urban transport in the metropolitan region to be emission-free by 2025. There are two objectives: On the one hand, the region wants to be an international forerunner in the field of smart and clean city logistics for all types of traffic – from goods and services to passenger traffic. On the other hand, the MRA wants to play a leading role in innovations in the logistics system and connections with logistics hubs outside the city, so that its position as a world-class logistics hub is strengthened.

Read more on our page Mobility

Text: Ronne Theunis


9 september 2020

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