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Since early 2020, our lives have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, halting our routines and taking over what was once ‘normal’. But despite these impacts, the logistics industry exceeded their capabilities and outperformed themselves. In this article, the third in the series, we discern how duisport- Duisburger Hafen AG, the world’s largest inland port, fulfilled their operations and crossed their targets for the year.

(Chinazug aus Wuhan im Duisburger Hafen. Pic Credit:duisport Copyright: dws Werbeagentur)

When the outbreak initially began, duisport aimed to protect all its employees' health and prevent the further spread of the virus while maintaining the key functions and tasks at the port. In March 2020, Duisburger Hafen took steps to set up an internal crisis unit to monitor coronavirus developments and implement rapid actions through recommendations and regulations. During this period, there was an unfavourable impact on trading volumes globally, and ripples were also felt in duisport. A negative impact was felt on revenue and earnings, and the port readied itself to tackle the challenges.

Tides Turning

By April 2020, duisport saw unprecedented growth in goods coming from China. Wuhan, the first epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic, began opening after three months of absolute lockdown. As production and factories reopened in China, duisport saw an inflow of large cargo volumes and welcomed the first train from Wuhan after several months. February and March were difficult months due to heavy restrictions in Asia and the holiday of spring festival, causing an economic impact in the West, some of which were also experienced by duisport. However, by April 2020, activities began in full swing, and 40 trains travelled per week between Duisburg and various destinations in China.

At the same time, with growing cases in Germany, duisport also played a vital role though its trustful partnership with Partner in the rapid transportation of protective equipment, such as masks and PPE kits from China to North-Rhine- Westphalia. The port also donated 50,000 Euros to federal health authorities, aiding their mission to the pandemic. This gesture was appreciated by the local health authorities, as duisport continued to play a significant part and transformed into a key logistical aid unit to fight the coronavirus.

(DIT Terminal. Pic Credit: duisport Copyright: krischerfotografie)

In May 2020, another historic moment occurred, as duisport recorded 50 trains per week. As a preferred destination for logistics, duisport sustained incredible numbers from April 2020 onwards. Rail freight also gained significant traction during the pandemic as a viable and sustainable option compared to air and sea freight.

2020 Indicates Interesting Results

As compared to 2019, the container traffic was recorded by October 2020 to be 2 percent higher despite the low periods during the months of February and March. The operations ran at 100 percent to handle the volumes during this period and trains from duisport now reached more destinations in China. The port garnered an incredible reputation as it handled 1/3rd of total trade via rail freight along the New Silk Road. Overall, the New Silk Road also experienced a traffic increase of 70 percent in the 2020 financial year.

In 2021, duisport released financial reports showcasing their remarkable performance during the pandemic year 2020. There was a financial improvement of 6.9 percent in 2020 with a 5 percent increase in container handling volumes. The contract logistics division of duisport also reported a 13.8 percent hike in revenues. Furthermore, the logistics service division reported a significant growth in bookings. The pandemic year was critical for rail freight growth along the New Silk Road, as almost 10,000 trains travel between China and Europe, transporting over 1 million containers.

(Increase in rail traffic from 2012 onwards Pic Credit:duisport)

The restructuring of the port of Duisburg as a multimodal logistics hub contributed to its stable performance during the pandemic. This diversified business model helped duisport tackle the challenges thrown at them during 2020. Flexibility, speed and customised solutions offered by duisport allowed them to stay ahead of during the crisis. Despite these notable results, duisport maintained a healthy and realistic outlook for 2021 and continued its infrastructural developments. Finally, in the first quarter of 2021, duisport again reported a positive increase of 7 percent in container handling. In the coming years, while understanding the implications of the pandemic, duisport is gearing up for major projects. This indeed will add to their services and capabilities, allowing them the opportunity to explore and expand capacities even further.

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