KiwiRail boosts rail freight capacity for Mid Canterbury

A new agreement between KiwiRail and Fairfield Freight Hub Ltd paves the way for increased rail volumes through KiwiRail’s current Ashburton rail site and creates the potential for a new container terminal and freight hub outside Ashburton.

“The agreement creates the opportunity for KiwiRail, Fairfield Freight Hub and Ashburton District Council to explore moving to a new site to relieve congestion in the centre of Ashburton and to encourage greater use of rail and reduce the number of trucks on the roads,” says KiwiRail Executive General Manager Sales and Commercial Alan Piper. 

If agreement on a new hub can be reached, rail capacity is expected to increase from about 500 container movements per year currently to 6,000 in the short term, and an expected 20,000 if the new hub is established.

“As a region, Mid Canterbury moves significant container volumes around New Zealand and for export. We see massive growth opportunity here.”

In early March, Fairfield Freight Hub, which is wholly owned by Wareing Group Ltd, will begin operating KiwiRail’s existing Ashburton container site.  

The current site will remain open on West Street until the new site is ready for use, says Wareing Group spokesperson Mark Wareing. The new container terminal and freight hub will be located in Fairton, about 5 kilometres north of Ashburton. 

“We’ve been working closely with KiwiRail and the Ashburton District Council to streamline freight volumes in and out of Mid Canterbury. We’re looking forward to collaborating with all parties once final agreements have been signed off on the move to Fairton.

“We’re working to grow the use of rail in the region. Helping our exporters and freight partners move more freight by rail makes sense both from a business and sustainability perspective and we hope this will stabilise the supply chain issues our clients are facing.”

Fewer trucks on roads also means less congestion, lower road maintenance costs, and greater road safety. It also means fewer emissions. Every tonne of freight carried by rail produces 70 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than the equivalent freight carried by road.