Ashburton’s new freight hub to move trucks off highway


The new Fairfield Freight Hub has been described as a “game changer” for Mid Canterbury, which will help shift trucks off the busy highway and keep Ashburton moving

By Jonathan Leask, Local Democracy Reporter


Minister of Transport Simeon Brown attended the official opening of the hub, which has been operational since April 8.

Wareing Group director Mark Wareing said the hub will streamline freight volumes in and out of Mid Canterbury and reduce the impact of trucks on roads.

“It’s setting the region up for a lower carbon future and the location near the Northpark Industrial Park is ideally located to take advantage of this new hub.

“Helping exporters and freight partners move more freight by rail makes sense both from a business and sustainability perspective and will help stabilise the supply chain issues our clients and their customers are facing.”

Wareing worked with Talley’s to secure the existing rail siding site at the former freezing works site for the hub, but he has always credited former Rangitata MP Jo Luxton for her assistance in getting the project across the line.

The hub development cost $18 million, with a $2.5m contribution from the Government’s NZ Upgrade Programme and $2.3m from the Ashburton District Council.

It’s a project Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown has been looking forward to for a long time.

“I’ve been waiting for this day for over six years, right from when I got the first phone call from Mark asking for assistance in getting the rail yard moved from the centre of Ashburton.

“Mark had the vision to get trucks off our congested state highway and put the containers that transport the goods onto rail.”
The hub will have several benefits for Mid Canterbury, Brown said.

“Significantly reducing shunting in the centre of town means locals aren’t stuck at level crossings anymore while wagons are connected or disconnected.

“It’s been a great collaboration and will be an asset for our district.”

Quigley feeds director Andrew Quigley described the hub as a “game changer for exporters in Mid Canterbury” who will be able to get direct access to ports via rail.

Since the project planning began, the Wareing Group took over running the shunting yard in central Ashburton and increased the volume from 2,000 containers per year to almost 6,000.

KiwiRail chief executive Peter Reidy said working with the Wareing Group to move operations to Fairfield will increase the amount of local freight carried by rail from 6,000 to 20,000 containers a year.

“That’s half a million tonnes of freight off the region’s roads – the equivalent of 40,000 truck movements – which helps manage road maintenance costs.

“And given rail offers 70% fewer emissions compared to heavy road freight, it’s a substantial reduction in transport emissions.

“Inter-modal hubs like the Fairfield Freight Hub make use of both road and rail transport – enabling trucks to complete the first and last mile of collection and delivery, and for rail to do the heavy longer-distance movements.”

While it was built to get more trucks off-road, the hub has been called into action to help put more trucks on the road due to the flood-damaged rail bridge over the Rangitata River.

With all train movements over the bridge being suspended, the hub has been utilised to keep rail freight moving between Invercargill and Christchurch.


LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air.