We were on the outskirts, but the centre was very gritty and urban indeed. You would hear gunfire every Saturday night; the local students included some very hard left radicals. The local Stadtwerke used to advertise that the water was safe to drink (always a bad sign) - "contains no organisms whatsoever". Well of course not - the cadmium content finished them all off!
|It's Big: World's Largest Inland Port pic, Guardian|
Because, yes, as well as being a mighty steel town in those days Duisburg was, and remains, the world's largest inland port. And now, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Peoples Republic, it seems - the western end of the great new Silk Road. “We are Germany’s China city,” says Sören Link, Duisburg’s Social Democrat mayor. “Rail freight between Chongqing and Duisburg is almost twice as expensive as shipping, but takes 12 days instead of 45. Air freight is at least twice as expensive as rail freight, but takes on average five days. If we can reduce lead times even further, below 10 days on average, then that opens up a lot more potential.”
Could that be done? This is a good bit:
The reasons journey times from China are still far too long ... lie mainly with the heavily unionised rail companies in Europe rather than their counterparts in Asia: trains take on average six days to travel the 1,300km from the Polish-Belarusian border to Duisburg, while the 10,000km from Chongqing to Belarus is often completed in five-and-a-half days. “The Chinese and the Kazakhs drive thousands of kilometres a day, they really work hard. It’s ridiculous, really. Of course we are trying to work out why this is happening. You know how many train drivers’ unions we have, and the Poles are not much better”.Haha! The Chinese could probably make some suggestions ...
** that link is to an old C@W post - almost exactly a decade old - on which the formatting has gone a bit haywire: but you'll get the drift. For more on this fabulous old site with some interesting history (including a famous murder and an IRA bombing), google Glamorgan Barracks.