Rhone–Rhine Canal

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The Rhone–Rhine Canal is a significant waterway of France, that can be considered to connect the Rhine and the Rhone and thereby the North Sea and the Mediterranean.

There are a number of parts to the canal:

  • a) The 224-km-long Canal du Rhone au Rhin connects from the Saône near Saint-Jean-de-Losne through to Mulhouse. It incorporates river sections of the Doubs.
  • b) The 13-km-long large-scale Embranchement Kembs-Niffer (formerly part of the Canal de Huningue) that continues the canal and which connects the docks at Mulhouse with the Grand Canal d'Alsace, which is the lateral, canalised Rhine, at Niffer.
  • c) The 29-km-long section, formerly part of the Northern arm of the Canal du Rhone au Rhine, that connects from the Rhine near Boofzsheim to Strasbourg. The intervening section, between Boofzsheim and Mulhouse has been closed to navigation.
  • d) A 3-km-long section of the former Canal du Huningue, from Niffer to Kembs. The remainder of that canal, from Kembs to Basel has been closed, superseded by the navigationally improved and canalised Rhine.

The canal was planned from 1784 onwards but finally originally opened in 1834, although the River Doubs which it incorporated has been significant since earliest times. Changes happened in 1960, with the opening of the enlarged Kembs-Niffer branch at the eastern end and the closure of part of the northern arm. A major project to substantially increase the size of the whole canal to accommodate Rhine-size commercial traffic was abandoned in 1997 and part of the allocated funds were used to modernise navigation on the canal.

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