A $40 million investment from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will enable KiwiRail to build a new regional freight hub near Palmerston North, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.
This investment will be used by KiwiRail to complete site master-planning and concept design for the hub and secure land required for the project.
“This is a major investment for Palmerston North, which will unlock new economic opportunities for people and businesses across the wider Manawatū-Whanganui region,” Shane Jones said.
Palmerston North is KiwiRail’s key staging point for domestic, imported and exported freight in the Lower North Island, with rail freight coming and going from the North, South, East and West. In the last year 2.4 million tonnes moved through the current Palmerston North rail facility, and there is a real opportunity to grow that amount.
“Palmerston North has long been identified as a strategic location for New Zealand’s freight network. It is centrally located, close to transport links and is therefore well placed to transport goods to market. The location of a regional freight Hub around Palmerston North is possible, precisely because of its accessibility by road and rail.
“Freight and distribution hubs are a key part of a well-functioning and efficient freight network. They are positioned strategically alongside transport infrastructure, and are particularly efficient because private enterprise can base themselves at these hubs, or nearby.
“Regional freight hubs of this type also make more efficient and sustainable use of our transport network and means that the contributions of all transport modes are optimised, consistent with the Government’s vision for a mode neutral transport system.
“This project leverages the region’s strengths and will be fully integrated into the other large investments being made in the regional transport system, including the new Manawatu Gorge road.
“This is a future-focused investment that will help ensure that as a country we are making the investment required to meet our growing freight demands in the coming decades, which are expected to increase by 60 per cent over the next two decades,” Shane Jones said.
The new regional freight hub will ensure rail remains relevant in central New Zealand by providing a modern, fit-for-purpose hub to meet predicted freight demand.