Hon Shane Jones, Minister of Regional Economic Development
A regional freight hub for the lower North Island will be built just northeast of Palmerston North, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones has announced.
The Government is investing $40 million through the Provincial Growth Fund to designate and buy land and design the planned intermodal freight hub to deal with growing freight volumes in the lower North Island.
“KiwiRail has looked at a range of potential sites around Palmerston North, considering a range of factors. Building the 2.5km long road-rail hub between the airport and Bunnythorpe makes sense,” Shane Jones says.
“New Zealand’s freight volumes are forecast to increase by more than 50 per cent in the decades ahead and Manawatu’s role in this is nationally important.
“Palmerston North is already a key logistics and distribution centre for the lower North Island and the regional freight hub will help take that to a new level – attracting more distribution businesses and helping create jobs while reducing congestion from heavy trucks in and around the city.
“Building the hub next to the major distribution companies in the North-East Industrial Zone will ensure rail is close to potential customers and Palmerston North Airport, while supporting the local and regional councils’ vision for Palmerston North.”
The regional freight hub will also link to planned council and NZTA road improvement projects, which will manage road freight traffic around Palmerston North and Bunnythorpe.
“The regional freight hub will bring a log yard, a container terminal, warehousing for freight businesses, and KiwiRail’s operations and maintenance facilities, together in one place,” Shane Jones says.
“It will make the transfer of domestic and export goods between road and rail safe and easy, and create an ‘inland port’ that will attract more logistics businesses to the area.
“This is the kind of big picture view we need to take across our transport system. It’s not about road versus rail. Innovations like this hub are about making the best of all transport modes, which sets our regions up for economic growth while minimising the impact on our people.”
KiwiRail will be seeking public feedback as it finalises the design of the hub, including mitigating environmental effects.