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Shipping Canal: Rhine Main Danube Canal

Posted in Shipping Canal - 19 Apr 2021, 2:33 PM

The Rhine Main Danube Canal—also known as the Europa Canal, RMD Canal, or Main-Danube Canal—connects three major rivers in the core of Western Europe. It is a major seaport that connects the North Sea to the Black Sea via the Atlantic Ocean. The 171-kilometer-long Canal is an important maritime route in Europe, capable of holding barges carrying up to 2,425 tons of bulk cargo.

Thousands of river cruise ship passengers pass through the canal connecting the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers each year. While it may go mostly unnoticed today, this technical marvel is nevertheless a new and crucial addition to the German landscape. The canal has undergone many construction extensions over the years; the most recent was completed in the early 1990s.

Rhine Main Danube Canal Construction

The earliest version of the canal (Ludwig Canal) was launched in 1938, before World War II. However, years of war caused severe damage and destroyed the initial locks of the river borderer. Due to complex reasons, including problems with waterways and bridges that had been destroyed, the canal reconstruction plan was abandoned and is no longer a priority.

A decade later, the demand for freight and passenger traffic on the waterways between the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers increased. The canal would also later be used as a sign of the unity of Germany in Europe, which was quickly trying to “forgive and forget” about the aftermath of the horrors of World War II.

In contrast to the previous simple reconstruction, the Rhine Main Danube Canal lock system will be built to hold the river together forever and allow ships to sail from Amsterdam to the Black Sea without significant interruptions.

Route of Rhine Main Danube Canal

The canal traverses the Regnitz valley, a tributary of the Main, from Bamberg to Furth. It follows the path of the Rednitz valley to the tributary of the Regnitz, then from Furth to the outside of Roth. It flows through the Franconian Jura mountains before joining the Altmuhl River in Dietfurt. The canal also follows the Altmuhl valley on the Danube from Dietfurt to Kelheim.

Ecological Impact

Unfortunately, the construction of the Rhine Main Danube Canal has had a devastating impact on the ecology. Animals take advantage of the canal to spread from Eastern Europe to the West and in the reverse direction.

This group of invasive species will cause problems in their new home ecosystem, such as a lack of predators or competition with other species that already live there. Even so, they may adapt to the existing ecosystem, and their presence will enrich the wildlife.

The Long-range Triathlon

Held in July each year, the Challenge Roth is a triathlon competition organized by Roth bei Nürnberg, Germany, Bavaria, and beyond. The race includes a 3.8-kilometer swim on the canal, and ship traffic is closed during the race. Then, a 14-kilometer section of the marathon route runs along the Rhine Main Danube Canal from Hilpoltstein to Leerstetten Lock. According to official data, the last race was held in 2019, won by Lucy Charles of Great Britain.

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