Abstract: There is a widespread belief these days that the Danube River is a waterway which is by far underutilised. This is usually attributed to the problems blocking navigation on the river (mostly on the Hungarian section), and to the missing regulations of the navigation routes. We have to add, however, that there are many other factors that set back the development of navigation, including the endowments of our economy that result in limited demand for water transportation. Also, several further economic, geopolitical and geographical endowments contribute to the low level of utilisation. The starting point of our paper is that the Danube River now offers one single long navigation route. The competitiveness of this route is decreased by the fact that no waterway network has been established in the last two hundred years that could have made river transportation more rationally usable. Think of the navigability of the tributaries, the connecting and branch canals, and multimodal ports (connected to railway and road transportation). Because of all these factors, no macro-regional economy was created at the adequate time, built on water transportation. Think of the fact that one single long railway line of motorway, without junctions and connections, cannot be operated economically, either, it will not become a system and its regional development impact will remain limited. Our paper focuses on those experiments that were made to contribute to the network development of the Danube River water system, with exact plans. Many of them were realistic plans in their days, but could not be realised because of the competition of railway, lack of capital or for geopolitical reasons.