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Regional Freight Hub

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.


  • 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.
Palmerston North Freight Hub v2

Intermodal Freight Hub design (Master Plan)

The Master Plan that will be used in planning the detailed design for the Regional Freight Hub represents a new approach to integrated logistics for New Zealand.

The three-kilometre site combines a container terminal, warehousing, and bulk goods and forestry loading operations with KiwiRail’s train operations and maintenance facilities.

It allows distribution companies to co-locate on the site, ensuring access to rail and improving operational efficiencies.

The Master Plan is based on best international supply chain practice and is future focused – designed to ultimately accommodate longer, more economical 1,500-metre trains.

Once KiwiRail has identified a site to build the Regional Freight Hub, the Master Plan will be adapted to fit that specific location.

More information about the Master Plan process is available here.


Regional Freight Hub

Project Phases

  • August 2018: Application for funding to design the hub, have land designated for rail use and purchase land submitted to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
  • November 2018: Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced $40 million funding to develop a new road-rail hub near Palmerston North
  • November 2019: Master Plan (high level design) announced
  • Expected late March 2020: Confirming preferred site and seeking public feedback
  • From mid-2020: Expect to begin the Designation process - which includes public notification and further opportunities for public input.
  • After the designation is complete and land has been purchased, the next stage will be to begin planning to build the freight hub, including any necessary resource consents, building consents and other third party approvals.  



Over the last year KiwiRail has been working with stakeholders, iwi and a team of experts to identify potential site options for the new hub with a view to announcing our preferred location by the end of March 2020.

Engaging with all interested and affected parties through this process is of the utmost importance to us. It is also important that feedback can be provided in a meaningful way.  Given the current unprecedented situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, we are reassessing when and how we do this engagement and have made the decision to defer the announcement of the preferred site. At the moment we cannot confirm an announcement date.

KiwiRail remains committed to progressing with our plans for the Hub and is still hoping to commence the designation process, in the third quarter of 2020. However, like many others, our plans may have to change as events unfold and we need to remain flexible at this time. 


More information and contact details