KiwiRail says it looks forward to collaborating with its development partners to deliver a new Regional Freight Hub near Palmerston North.
The New Zealand state-owned network operator earlier this month signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the NZ Transport Agency and the Palmerston North City Council to share information and work together to progress the construction of a hub.
The MoU follows the designation of $40 million for the project in November last year, from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund. The money is supposed to cover the costs of designing the hub and designating and purchasing the land needed.
KiwiRail chief executive Todd Moyle said a collaborative approach from all parties will be invaluable.
“There is a real opportunity here for regional development, but to make the most of those benefits it’s crucial that the hub development is aligned with the Transport Agency’s roading plans in the region, and the council’s economic development plans,” he said.
“The MoU is part of a strategic approach to ensure all of the interested parties work together to deliver a final result that achieves the range of outcomes we want.”
A road-rail hub near Palmerston North would look to help manage growing freight volumes through the Manawatū.
“Palmerston North is already a critical freight distribution point for the lower North Island, with goods coming through from the upper North Island, Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Wellington, and freight volumes are expected to increase significantly in the coming decades,” Moyle said.
Transport Agency director of regional relationships Emma Speight said the agreement bodes well for future transport initiatives in the region.
“We are looking forward to deepening our working relationship with KiwiRail and PNCC to ensure we maximise these exciting new opportunities,” she said. “The Transport Agency is leading investigations into transport improvements around Palmerston North, and the new freight hub will complement this future transport planning.”