The Growth Potential of Container Shipping on the Yangtze River

Albert Veenstra, M Zhang, MW (Marcel) Ludema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the rapid economic growth in the Yangtze River Delta area, the Yangtze River itself is lagging behind as measured by the ratio of container volume to total freight volume. According to the Ministry of Communications’ statistics, more than 70% of cargoes generated in the Yangtze Valley are suitable for containerized transport, but, at this time, only a fraction of these cargoes are actually transported in containers on the Yangtze River. This paper investigates, in a structured way, what the bottlenecks for container transport are along the Yangtze. We look at the geography of the river and physical bottlenecks, the development of port capacity, the available container ship fleet and service networks along the Yangtze. As a final element, we estimate, for the first time, container flows along the Yangtze River. The analysis shows that there is no immediate capacity shortage in either ports or the fleet. The analysis also shows that current service networks are inefficient, and could carry up to twice as much cargo with the same amount of ships. In terms of physical barriers, the Nanjing Bridge turns out to be both a physical and an economic barrier. The Three Gorges Dam is not a bottleneck yet, but with the current growth of container traffic, it will be in the next few years.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-549
Number of pages15
JournalMaritime Policy and Management
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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