The design of a new rail-road freight hub near Palmerston North is a bold vision for New Zealand’s logistics sector, KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.
The Master Plan for the three kilometre long intermodal freight hub, unveiled by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones today, combines a container terminal, warehousing for road transport operators, and bulk goods and forestry loading operations with KiwiRail’s train operations and maintenance facilities.
“This is a major step forward in New Zealand’s approach to freight logistics,” Mr Miller says.
“It brings road and rail freight together in a much more integrated and seamless way, improving efficiency and saving in costs. The design allows for consumer imports and bulk exports to be managed at one place, and there is plenty of room to co-locate freight partners and meet their warehousing needs.”
Mr Miller says Palmerston North is already a critical freight distribution point, with goods coming through from the upper North Island, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and the South Island.
“With freight volumes expected to increase in the decades ahead, this intermodal hub will be a crucial freight centre for the lower North Island.
“The efficiency improvements will make rail more attractive and help manage the numbers of trucks on our national and regional roads. But we are also planning for the decades ahead, ensuring the hub is designed to accommodate longer, more economical 1,500 metre trains - which is a 60 per cent increase in length and capacity.
“A purposely designed facility to link rail and road together like this hasn’t been seen in New Zealand. We are creating something world-class, which will support the growth of Manawatu’s logistics industry well into the future.”
The Government’s Provincial Growth Fund has invested $40 million as a catalyst to developing the hub. This funding allows KiwiRail to design the hub, purchase land for it and have the land designated for rail use.
With the Master Plan complete, KiwiRail is now working with local councils, iwi and other stakeholders to identify sites around Palmerston North where the hub could be built.
KiwiRail expects to identify a preferred technical site, and will be consulting with the public early next year, before seeking to have the land designated for rail use.
The Intermodal Freight Hub Master Plan fly through animation is available for media use from this drop box: