GERMANY’s Duisport and Maersk, the world’s largest container carrier, have joined to build and operate a 100,000-square metre logistics centre that is expected to be the world’s largest inland container terminal.

Maersk did not disclose the size of its investment, but said it built on its strategy to become an end-to-end service provider.

Targeted acquisitions by Maersk this year included European customs specialist KGH Customs Services, and US-based warehousing and distribution company Performance Team.

The new facility, called Logport VI, will be on a 43-hectare site that Maersk said would be designed and built “in a short period of time,” with a 500-metre quay on Europe’s most important inland waterway, the River Rhine.

One-third of all rail-based trade between China and Europe also runs through Duisport.

Jens-Ole Krenzien, vice president of the North West continent area at Maersk, said the joint project in Duisburg would offer solutions tailored to customers in the heart of Europe.

“Our customers need more than the pure transport service from port to port,” he said. “The location will serve as an additional decoupling point in our customers’ supply chain.”

Maersk CEO Soren Skou emphasised the logistics business was to become the “growth engine” of the group. The non-ocean share of revenue rose to 28.2 per cent in the third quarter, a 1.3 per cent sequential improvement on the second quarter, as Maersk steadily expanded its landside logistics reach.

Duisport CEO Erich Staake said Logport VI would provide both Maersk and Duisport with long-term and sustainable competitive advantages.

“The new container terminal directly on the Rhine, direct connection to intermodal transport chains in the European hinterland, as well as to Asia, are advantages for competing internationally,” he said.

The Maersk investment comes as rail demand between China and Europe soars, driven by shippers balking at the sky-high air freight rates on Asia-Europe with most of the long-haul passenger fleet – source of half the available capacity on the route – still grounded.

At the same time, on the ocean trades, the unexpectedly high and ongoing peak season demand is limiting Asia-Europe container shipping space, pushing further volume to the rails.