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Despite the difficult situation, DCT Gdańsk recorded growth last year; Interview with Cameron Thorpe

Despite the difficult situation, DCT Gdańsk recorded growth last year; Interview with Cameron Thorpe

The DCT Gdańsk terminal is the largest intermodal point in Poland and serves as the northern gateway to Europe. Since its opening in 2007, it has become one of the five largest European ports in terms of the volume of intermodal trains handled. The Port handles more than 5,500 intermodal trains a year. How is the port managing to meet its development and sustainability goals in these difficult times, and what will be the impact of the coronavirus crisis on its future business? These and other questions were answered by the CEO, Member of the Board of Directors of DCT Gdańsk, Mr. Cameron Thorpe.

How has DCT Gdansk developed since it opened in 2007?

Thanks to the strong growth of the Central Eastern European market, DCT Gdansk Container Terminal has been developing dynamically since it first opened for business. Even last year, when Poland and the region saw negative GDP growth, we still experienced growth in import/export containers. Such a strong and important market deserves a dedicated terminal, focused on continuous investments and development. DCT Gdansk seeks to exceed customer expectations, with investment in infrastructure and equipment, extremely fast response times to market needs and continuous improvement of productivity. We strive for the highest level of service for our customers so that they can maximize the opportunity of our unique location and direct ocean connections with Asia. We pleased to be working with a Port Authority that has also made accompanying investments in the expansion of the port infrastructure and there has also been significant progress in road and rail investments around the entire port of Gdansk. All of these are among many factors that have strengthened DCT Gdansk’s position as the Northern Gateway to the fastest developing region in Europe. 

Which major shipping lines call DCT Gdansk regularly?

DCT has regular deep-sea Asia-Europe services on a weekly basis with two of the largest alliances in the world. DCT Gdansk handles vessels of 2M Alliance (Maersk Line and MSC) and we also have a regular weekly Ocean Alliance service (COSCO, CMA-CGM Group, Evergreen, OOCL). DCT Gdansk also has numerous regular feeder and shortsea connections with most of the Baltic and North Sea ports. 

Does DCT Gdansk serve the markets of its southern neighbours?  

Over the last few years DCT Gdansk container terminal has steadily built a growing position in the Czech and Slovak markets. Every year through our terminal, we link tens of thousands of containers with goods routed to or from these countries with global markets. That would not be possible without the direct train services to the Czech Republic that started running in 2017. DCT serves up to 2 trains a week to Paskov.  

To serve our customers in these countries, DCT Gdansk now has Adéla Kurečková permanently located in Prague as the Business Development Manager for Czech Republic and Slovakia. With a career spanning the shipping, freight forwarding and customs clearance industries, Adéla can work closely with our customers in Czech Republic and Slovakia and bring her thorough knowledge to assist the logistics industry and BCO customers in these key markets to utilize the cost-effective opportunities that moving goods via DCT Gdansk brings. 

The terminal serves as the largest intermodal loading point in Poland and is one of the top five European ports by rail container volume. We handle over 5,500 trains a year providing multiple daily rail connections with all key inland destinations in Poland and now cross-border trains too. We have the proven capability to provide peace-of-mind to inland customers who want to use a cheaper alternative routing to the traditional ports.    

DCT Gdansk is a European leader in container moves per single call with average of 10 thousand moves per call. Do you consider the increasing vessel capacity as a disruptor of the Port Services development?

The drive to larger ships comes from shipping lines seeking economies of scale, but these ULCV’s can also provide a lower carbon-footprint per container. However, the ULCV’s do need the right maritime and port infrastructure and this is where DCT Gdansk excels. DCT Gdansk is one of the few ports in Europe without any maritime restrictions and able to berth the world’s largest ships 24/7 (Also 365!). With customers switching to DCT Gdansk because of the world-class service levels and access to direct deep-sea shipping routes, the terminal has seen rapid growth and we now handle the largest scheduled container exchanges in Europe. We therefore make it a priority for the terminal’s development to move ahead and exceed our customer’s expectations. 

But handling big ships is more than just excellent maritime and berth capability. It also means providing landside infrastructure of the highest quality to ensure these containers can move freely and quickly to or from the customers based inland. Therefore one of the most exciting developments at DCT Gdansk is the expansion of our on-site railhead, where later this year we will finalize the doubling of current capacity. When completed, we will have seven sidings, each capable of taking a 750m train. This will give DCT Gdansk over 5km of sidings and dual-track entry. With this enhanced infrastructure, our inland customers will have access to an efficient rail service providing peace-of-mind and enjoy the significant cost savings of a shorter rail route to Gdansk compared to traditional ports to the south or west. 

Key areas where DCT Gdansk has recently developed?

DCT Gdansk is constantly investing in its handling capabilities to meet growing market demand and exceed customer expectations. Despite the challenging 2020 conditions due to the pandemic, the terminal continued its development plans. Our expansion programs are nearing completion with additional yard area and equipment. Many components of these programs are already finished – 3 additional super-post-panamax quay cranes (to a total now of 14) all capable of handling the largest ships afloat, 5 additional eRTGs, 3 new RMG cranes for the rail, 15 additional hectares of new area completed or being developed, a fully automated gate process with OCR cameras integrated with our ‘E-gate’ Vehicle Booking System, OCR cameras on our rail entry and a new access road to DCT. 

Our rail developments we’ve already mentioned, but this year will also see a further 3.6Ha of yard completed and another 10 electrical RTGs ordered. In a separate development, DCT leased 6.5ha of land connected to the terminal which will enable us to develop new tailor-made logistics solutions to meet the needs of Shipping Lines and BCOs, perhaps as a port-based distribution centre. 

What will be the impact of Covid19 for your further business development?

2020 was a challenging year for many businesses including shipping industry because of COVID-19, but despite the impact on the economy, at DCT Gdansk we actually saw growth in our import/export cargo. As previously mentioned, the Covid-19 pandemic has not had any impact on our development plans and we have continued to expand our capabilities to offer the northern gateway alternative that is dedicated to serving our Central, Eastern European neighbours as the Baltic Hub.

What are the objectives of your sustainability efforts, and what progress has been made in meeting your goals?

DCT takes its environmental responsibility seriously and it’s a key consideration for our operations and future investments. We have two key corporate goals, firstly by 2030 we will have reduced our CO2 emissions by 50% in absolute terms compared to a 2019 benchmark. Secondly, DCT will be completely carbon-neutral by 2050. To achieve these goals, DCT is moving towards more electrically-powered equipment. With the opening of our T2 terminal at the end of 2016, our main yard handling equipment was electrically powered and a move away from the older-type diesel power equipment. This compliments our quay cranes which were already electrically powered. Last year in 2020, we commissioned three new rail-mounted gantry cranes (RMGs) to operate our railhead. These RMG cranes are all electrically powered. We are also expanding our railhead to double its current capacity to over 5km of tracks, all as part of our commitment to reducing the carbon footprint of the whole inland logistics chain. Approximately 55% of the energy used at DCT now comes from electricity and for 2021 DCT has ensured that electricity is now provided by 100% renewable-sources, significantly reducing secondary emissions.  

DCT is working with key customers and stakeholders to help de-carbonise the supply chain. Our strategic decisions to start moving away from diesel-powered equipment by purchasing electrical equivalents and also to secure the electricity that powers the equipment from renewable sources, are tangible proof of DCT’s commitment to play our part in ensuring a better and cleaner future for Europe. 

Source:  DCT Gdansk


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29 March 2021, 14:09