Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has announced the preferred site of the 2.5 kilometre long inter-modal freight hub is between Palmerston North Airport and Bunnythorpe
“The announcement of the preferred site for the Regional Freight Hub near Palmerston North is a significant milestone for this nationally important logistics project,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.
Palmerston North is a nationally strategic freight location, with domestic and export goods moving to the city from Auckland and the upper North Island, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington.
Freight volumes are expected to increase significantly in the coming decades and it is crucial that we have an integrated transport network to support this growth. Rail is an important part of this picture.
KiwiRail is progressing plans for a high-tech, intermodal freight hub which will help grow Palmerston North’s role as a critical freight distribution centre for the lower North Island.
It will support rail and road transport working together to meet the freight demand in the lower North Island, while boosting the regional economy.
The hub project is aligned with Horizon’s and Palmerston North City Council growth plans and it will tie in with other freight transport projects in the region.
KiwiRail has received investment through the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund to undertake the design (Master Plan) of the hub, have the land designated for rail use and commence purchasing the required land.
“The Regional Freight Hub will have huge long-term benefits for Palmerston North and the wider Manawatu – with the ability to attract two to four billion dollars of logistics investment into the area – while servicing the entire central and lower North Island,” Mr Miller says.
“It will be New Zealand’s first, truly world-class supply chain logistics precinct – including capacity for a log yard, bulk goods silo, container terminal (including free trade zone capability for exports), significant warehousing for freight partners, and KiwiRail’s operations.
“Integrating all of these services, on this scale, creates efficiencies and cost savings that will set the standard for New Zealand logistics and support the growth of Palmerston North as a distribution centre well into the future.”
Mr Miller says KiwiRail is a proud part of the Palmerston North community and he wants to ensure locals are involved as the design of the Hub is finalised.
“The Hub is designed to enable our trains and heavy trucks to work efficiently together, while helping to get trucks out of already congested parts of Palmerston North city.
“I fully appreciate a project of this size represents a big change for the local community. That is why we want to work with the public as we finalise the design of the Hub to ensure we have the right mitigations in place and any environmental impacts are minimised.
“KiwiRail has contacted affected landowners and today begins wider public consultation that will allow feedback on aspects of the Hub footprint, and the mitigations we will be developing. My team will also be holding public meetings in and around Palmerston North in the weeks ahead.
“The Regional Freight Hub is designed to meet the freight needs of the Manawatu and the surrounding regions for the next 100 years. Announcing the preferred site is a major milestone in this important regional project.”
Design, consenting, and acquisition of land for the Regional Freight Hub is funded through a $40 million investment from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund.
- Reducing transport emissions and road costs – every tonne of freight carried by rail has 66 per cent fewer carbon emissions than heavy road freight. Getting more freight on rail also reduces road maintenance costs and improves road safety.
- Taking pressure off city roads – situating the hub outside Palmerston North and integrating it with NZTA’s planned freight road and Manawatu Gorge road, will take freight traffic out of central Palmerston North and reduce congestion.
- Growing the logistics industry in Manawatu – KiwiRail will also work with key customers on major infrastructure requirements to encourage logistics and distribution businesses into the area, to help grow the sector and create more local jobs.
Online consultation and more detail about the planned public meetings are available at: https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/what-we-do/projects/regional-freight-hub/
KiwiRail will finalise the design of the Regional Freight Hub and expects to begin the process to have the land designated for rail use, which is similar to a Resource Consent process, from about September 2020.