The government’s $40m investment in a new freight hub near Palmerston North will ready the Manawatu-Whanganui region for the coming freight growth, KiwiRail’s Acting Chief Executive Todd Moyle says
“Palmerston North is already a critical freight distribution point, with goods coming through from the upper North Island, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington, and freight volumes expected to increase significantly in the coming decades,” he explains.
“To best manage this growth, it’s crucial that we make the most of multiple forms of transport.
“With an airport nearby and NZTA planning a freight ring road and a replacement road for the Manawatu Gorge, there is a need for a distribution zone near the city. Rail is a vital part of that development.”
The Provincial Growth Fund’s $40m investment will see KiwiRail purchase land for an inter-modal rail and road freight hub near the city, which will be easily accessed by distribution companies and other businesses.
“The government recognises the important role rail plays in driving sustainable and inclusive growth in New Zealand,” Moyle says.
“Every tonne of freight carried by rail has 66% fewer carbon emissions than heavy road freight.
“Getting more freight on rail also reduces road congestion and road maintenance costs and improves road safety.
Moyle says building a modern, inter-modal freight hub will mean rail and road can work together to meet the freight demand in central New Zealand, while growing the Manawatu-Whanganui region.
“This strategic approach to developing integrated logistics in Palmerston North has been a joint effort with Accelerate25, Horizons Regional Council, Palmerston North City Council and NZTA.”
KiwiRail is now beginning detailed plans for the freight hub, which will include identifying potential sites and seeking resource consent to designate land for rail use.
“We will work with key customers on major infrastructure requirements to encourage freight businesses into the area,” Moyle advises.
“Once the new hub is established, KiwiRail will, over time, move operations from our Palmerston North Freight Yard.”
The yard was initially established in 1964 on the city outskirts but is now surrounded by urban development.
This will allow the land to be used for business and housing, unlocking growth in the region.