Promoting river transport

Managing the navigable walterway

Along with the navigable waterway developed by CNR the Navigation Management Centre ensures that navigating from Lyon to the Mediterranean is done in total safety.

Developing the waterway, an alternative mode of transport

Gerer-voie-navigable-2In line with its historic mission to promote the development of navigation, between 1952 and 1977 CNR built 14 wide gauge locks that facilitate and secure river transport, whether for goods or passengers.

It has also developed 18 industrial and port sites downstream of Lyon, including Port de Lyon, which also generate increasing river traffic. CNR also promotes river tourism on the Lower Rhone by building landing stages and wharves for passenger boats.

Chiffres clés du trafic fluvial 2015

4.85 millions tons transported
84,720 containers TEU (twenty foot equivalent units)
206,396 passengers
91,046 lock passages


Since 2012, CNR has controlled the 14 wide gauge locks on the Lower Rhone remotely from its Navigation Management Centre installed at Châteauneuf du Rhône, which operates 24/7. This innovative system, the only one of its kind in France, satisfies three main challenges: guaranteeing maximum safety on the Rhone through increased monitoring of the installations, improving information for the users of the Rhone by providing full information on traffic in real-time, and improving the service available for skippers by optimising lock passages (less than 20 min). With a monitoring system that operates 24/7 (video, VHF, telephone), the Navigation Management Centre provides permanent surveillance along the navigable section of the Rhone and increases the safety of lock operations.


CNR has built 4 locks for pleasure boats on the Upper Rhone that permit bypassing the hydropower plants of Chautagne and Belley. This has opened up a continuous stretch of 57 kilometres of navigable waterway between Seyssel and Brégnier-Cordon. The locks of Belley also facilitate the link with Lake Bourget via the Savières canal. The next step will be the construction of the lock of Brégnier-Cordon and the installation of beacons on the navigable channel. The works will take place between 2017 and 2019. This project will extend the navigable waterway to nearly 90 kilometres and link the Vallée Bleu (Montalieu-Vercieu) where the largest port on the Upper Rhone is located.