Wellington Scoop

KiwiRail’s new Manawatu freight hub may include free trade zone

kiwirail hub

News from KiwiRail
The announcement of the preferred site for the Regional Freight Hub near Palmerston North is a significant milestone for this nationally important logistics project, KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones today announced that the preferred site of the 2.5 kilometre long inter-modal freight hub is between Palmerston North Airport and Bunnythorpe.

“The Regional Freight Hub will have huge long-term benefits for Palmerston North and the wider Manawatu – with the ability to attract two to four billion dollars of logistics investment into the area – while servicing the entire central and lower North Island,” Mr Miller says.

“It will be New Zealand’s first, truly world-class supply chain logistics precinct – including capacity for a log yard, bulk goods silo, container terminal (including free trade zone capability for exports), significant warehousing for freight partners, and KiwiRail’s operations.

“Integrating all of these services, on this scale, creates efficiencies and cost savings that will set the standard for New Zealand logistics and support the growth of Palmerston North as a distribution centre well into the future.”

Mr Miller says KiwiRail is a proud part of the Palmerston North community and he wants to ensure locals are involved as the design of the Hub is finalised.

“The Hub is designed to enable our trains and heavy trucks to work efficiently together, while helping to get trucks out of already congested parts of Palmerston North city.

“I fully appreciate a project of this size represents a big change for the local community. That is why we want to work with the public as we finalise the design of the Hub to ensure we have the right mitigations in place and any environmental impacts are minimised.

“KiwiRail has contacted affected landowners and today begins wider public consultation that will allow feedback on aspects of the Hub footprint, and the mitigations we will be developing. My team will also be holding public meetings in and around Palmerston North in the weeks ahead.

“The Regional Freight Hub is designed to meet the freight needs of the Manawatu and the surrounding regions for the next 100 years. Announcing the preferred site is a major milestone in this important regional project.”

Design, consenting, and acquisition of land for the Regional Freight Hub is funded through a $40 million investment from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund.

Online consultation and more detail about the public meetings are available here.

KiwiRail will finalise the design of the Regional Freight Hub and expects to begin the process to have the land designated for rail use, which is similar to a Resource Consent process, from about September 2020.


  1. Lewis Holden, 2. July 2020, 16:53

    Interestingly this is on the electrified section of the Main Trunk Line (i.e. north of Palmy)… time to finish the job to Wellington and Auckland. [via twitter]

  2. André Brett, 2. July 2020, 16:59

    Wrap your eyes around it.
    The most achievable way to get passenger rail improvements is to bundle it with freight schemes like this. It’d be great if this gave a springboard to a) filling gaps in electrification and b) Palmy–Marton upgrades for a CapCon extension. Everyone wins. [via twitter]

  3. Dave B, 3. July 2020, 13:15

    Unfortunately KiwiRail does not see initiating new passenger train services as part of its core role. It will do its best to accommodate proposals from outside if someone else funds them, but it tends not to take the initiative itself. This is a pity, and I think it would require a change in the government’s brief to KiwiRail to alter this. Or encourage another organization independent of KiwiRail to develop passenger services and allow it access to the rail network.