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Regional Freight Hub

Designation process underway

KiwiRail lodged its Notice of Requirement (NoR) in late October 2020 for a designation in the Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) District Plan for the construction and operation of a new intermodal rail and freight hub.

The information we have prepared, additional information requested by the council, and more detail about the process is available at:

The designation process includes public notification of the NoR with the opportunity for the public to make submissions. Following the close of the period for submissions, there will be a hearing before of an Independent Panel of Commissioners, and they will make recommendations about the NoR.

The Regional Freight Hub story

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.

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  • 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.
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Intermodal Freight Hub design (Master Plan)

The Master Plan was developed to guide site selection for the new Regional Freight Hub.

It represents a new approach to integrated logistics for New Zealand.

The 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.

More information about the Master Plan process is available here.


Updated Regional Freight Hub footprint and mitigation areas.

KiwiRail PN Freight Hub Masterplan

Regional Freight Hub site progress

On 2 July 2020 Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the preferred site of the Regional Freight Hub.

The final site comes after a year of work with stakeholders and experts to determine the best location around Palmerston North, beside the North Island Main Trunk rail line.

The site is partially in the North East Industrial Zone, stretching over rural land north towards Bunnythorpe. It is close to Palmerston North’s major distribution businesses and Palmerston North Airport.

In September 2020 KiwiRail unveiled more details about the proposed Regional Freight Hub footprint and mitigations.

This confirms the location of properties affected by the Hub footprint, roading and level crossing changes and the potential measures, including land contouring, planting and wetland development, that will help fit the Hub into its surroundings and reduce impacts on the community.

Take a look at our Storymap which covers the project to date, including the updated footprint, details of the mitigation proposals and recorded interviews with experts. Please note, it’s best opened in a Chrome web browser.

More information can also be found in the following posters which were used at the community information session at Bunnythorpe School on 23 September 2020 and through the detailed cross section drawings that highlight the environment layout and various mitigation measures.

View information posters 

View detailed cross section drawings

Public Feedback

KiwiRail sought public feedback on the Hub in July 2020 to finalise the design and develop mitigations. 

This included public drop-in sessions in Palmerston North and Bunnythorpe and an online zoom session.

Meaningful feedback from the local community and wider community is a crucial part of the final design process.

You may still view the interactive map used for online consultation to see what was said about our proposals:

The project team used the feedback we received to prepare the Notice of Requirement (NoR) – which confirms the site size and mitigations we have proposed to minimise impact on the surrounding community.

We went back to landowners and the community with our plans in September 2020 and the NoR was lodged with the Palmerston North City Council in late October.

Further information is available in the FAQs below.


Notice of Requirement/Designation

In late October KiwiRail lodged its Notice of Requirement (NoR) for a designation in the Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) District Plan for the construction and operation of a new intermodal rail and freight hub on land between Palmerston North and Bunnythorpe. 

KiwiRail thanks all those who attended engagement sessions, met with us and provided valuable feedback in developing the Freight Hub NoR.  

The NoR and supporting information is available on the PNCC website:

PNCC reviews the NoR and can request that KiwiRail provide further information.

KiwiRail has requested that the NoR be publicly notified for submissions. Once any further information has been provided by KiwiRail, the NoR will be publicly notified for submissions.

Following the close of the period for submissions, there will be a hearing before of an Independent Panel of Commissioners, and they will make recommendations about the NoR.


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
  • July 2020: Preferred site announced
  • From July 2020: Seeking public feedback as the Hub design is finalised and mitigations are developed
  • October 2020: Designation process begins - including public notification
  • After the designation is complete and land has been purchased, the next stage will be to begin planning to build the Regional Freight Hub, including any necessary resource consents, building consents and other third-party approvals



More information and contact details