Major milestone for Regional Freight Hub

2 March 2022

KiwiRail’s Regional Rail Hub near Palmerston North has reached a significant milestone, with the Independent Hearing Panel recommending it be given the planning designation it needs to proceed, Executive General Manager Property Olivia Poulsen says.

 KiwiRail applied to have the land the hub will be built on designated for rail use – a consenting process commonly used for large infrastructure projects – in late October 2020. This was followed by public hearings on the designation before the Panel in August and September 2021.

 “After careful consideration, the Panel has today confirmed that it recommends to KiwiRail that it proceed with the designation. This is great news for us and for Palmerston North, marking a major milestone for the hub project,” Ms Poulsen says.

 “A lot of time and effort has gone into this process - from KiwiRail, the Palmerston North City Council; local Iwi; a range of submitters, including members of the local community; and the Panel itself. We thank everyone for their input.”

 Ms Poulsen says KiwiRail had proposed comprehensive conditions for the hub project, including how to manage noise, dust, light and traffic during construction and its later operation; a partnership framework with local iwi to ensure they were involved as the project progressed; and for ongoing community liaison.

 “The Panel provided feedback on those conditions, including suggesting some small changes. We are currently working through those, before responding to the Council in the next month. 

 “The hub will be transformational, supporting economic development in the Manawatu and stimulating growth in Palmerston North’s already important logistics sector. It will also enable more freight to go on rail – reducing transport carbon emissions – and relieve traffic congestion from heavy trucks in the city.

 “We fully appreciate that a hub of this size will change the landscape on the northern edge of Palmerston North, but we are confident any effects can be mitigated. We are looking forward to working with the community to manage changes in the years ahead.”

 KiwiRail received $40 million seed funding from the Government in 2019 for the high-level design of the hub, to designate it and to begin purchasing land.

 “We are now working on a business case for investment to build the hub. The aim is for it to begin operating around 2030,” says Ms Poulsen.  

 The next step in the designation process is that KiwiRail has 30 working days to advise Palmerston North City Council whether it accepts or rejects the recommendation in whole or in part. The Council will notify those who submitted of the feedback and an appeal period will follow.

 The Panel’s full decision is available at: KiwiRail regional freight hub (pncc.govt.nz)

 More information about the Regional Freight Hub is available at:

https://www.kiwirail.co.nz/what-we-do/projects/regional-freight-hub/