Bridges can span a waterway, a harbour,a hydraulic power station, a lock facility. Water levels can fluctuate dramatically in free-flowing sections of the river, with high water levels having a substantial influence on the potential passage under bridges.  
Depending on the distance between bridge pillars, there is at least one or more, and in most cases two, openings for passage where ships can pass safely under the bridge. Where there are two passageways it is usual that one is  used for upstream traffic and the other is used for downstream traffic.    

The possibility of passing under a bridge depends primarily on the bridge clearance above the water level and the fixed point height of the ship. The fixed point height means the vertical distance between the waterline and the highest point of a stationary vessel after moving parts such as masts, radar or the wheelhouse have been folded down or lowered. The highest fixed Point of a ship can be reduced by adding ballast to the ship. This is possible by loading ballast water into ballast tanks or by the loading of solid ballast.

Bridges on the Danube

The international Danube waterway from Kelheim in Southern Germany to Sulina on the Romanian Black Sea coast covers a distance of 2,414.72 km and is spanned by a total of 130 bridges. More than 180 additional bridges are to be found on the 430 kilometre-long upper reaches of the Danube from Donaueschingen to Kelheim.  

On the upper Danube (Kelheim-Gönyü) the river is crossed by a bridge every seven kilometres on average. On the middle stretch of the Danube (Gönyü-Turnu-Severin), the average distance between bridges is 27 kilometres, while on the Lower Danube (Turnu-Severin-Sulina) the distance stretches to 155 kilometres.


Length ofsection

Number ofbridges

Bridge density

Upper Danube

624 km


7.1 km

Central Danube

860 km


26.9 km

Lower Danube

931 km


155.2 km

Danube waterway

2415 km


19.2 km

Bridges operating in the Bulgarian section

Two bridges operate the Bulgarian section of the Danube river:

1.  "Danube Bridge", also called the Friendship Bridge is a steel truss bridge over the river between the cities of Ruse and Giurgiu (at the river kilometre 488.7).
Its length is 2.80 km and passes at an altitude of 30 meters above the water. Built on two levels - for trains and cars. The middle part (length 85 m) can be raised and for passing big ships. The bridge is one of the two bridges over the Danube river between Bulgaria and Romania, which has a length of about 500 km.

2. Bridge "New Europe" (also known as Danube Bridge 2) – is a rail and road bridge over the river, which connectsthe towns of Vidin in Bulgaria and Calafat in Romania. The bridge is 1971 m, including dual carriageway, single electrified railway line, and a bicycle lane.

River km



Name of Bridge

Main use

Passageway 1 (RB, downstream view)

Passageway 2 (LB, downstream view)

WL at reference gauge, where the height is taken

HNWL at reference gauge

Additional passageways

Height (m)

Width (m)


Height (m)

Width (m)




BG Ruse

RO Giurgiu

Friendship brigde (Danube Bridge)




D (between 6 and 7 piller)



U (between 4 and 5 piller)

Giurgiu 0 cm

707 cm Giurgiu

3rd passageway available (width: 76,00m, height 14,40/21.82m)




RO Calafat

New Europe (Danube Bridge 2)




(between 10 and 11 piller)



(between 10 and 11 piller)

Calafat 702 cm

702 cm Calafat

2nd passageway between 9 and 10 piller

Vertical bridge clearance refers to the distance (in metres) between the lowest part of the bottom edge of a bridge in the range of the entire width of the fairway channel and the highest navigable water level (HNWL 2010). Horizontal bridge clearance referes to the width of the fairway channel at low navigable water level (LNWL).

RB = situated close to or on the right bank LB = situated close to or on the left bank D = for vessels headed downstream U = for vessels headed upstream

VIA Donau / Danube Commission / "Danube Bridge Vidin - Calafat" AD


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