A transport system was represented by infrastructure, vehicles and operations. The waterborne transport system included both the sea and inland waterways, including locks and bridges, and deep-sea and inland ports and terminals. The vehicles were sea, sea-river and inland vessels. Operations dealt with the way the vessels were operated and the procedures set for this purpose including financing, legalities and policies. NOVIMAR assessed the viability of the vessel train in the total transport system by use of simulation.
In the simulation, all of the above parameters were included in a chain cost model. Also for the transport from the sea port to the hinterland, road and intermodal rail transport were incorporated. Therefore, this model allowed calculating the generalised transport chain costs for different transport chains, including modal competition from road and intermodal rail transport.
A transport chain was defined as a route from a hinterland region to an EU hinterland area. This model was extended with the vessel train characteristics and with other freight types such as the FMCG.