Kiwirail unveils intermodal freight hub plans

A three-kilometre-long intermodal freight hub will combine a container terminal, warehousing for road transport operators, and bulk goods and forestry loading operations with KiwiRail’s train operations and maintenance facilities.

Palmerston North, in New Zealand’s North Island, is a critical freight distribution point. Goods travel through it from the upper North Island, Taranaki, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington and the South Island.

The New Zealand government’s Provincial Growth Fund has invested $40 million towards developing the hub, which allowed KiwiRail to design it and purchase the land. The hub is intended to make rail a more attractive option to help manage the numbers of trucks on regional roads.

“A purposely designed facility to link rail and road together like this hasn’t been seen in New Zealand. We are creating something world-class, which will support the growth of Manawatu’s logistics industry well into the future,” KiwiRail’s group chief executive Greg Miller said.

“It brings road and rail freight together in a much more integrated and seamless way, improving efficiency and saving in costs. The design allows for consumer imports and bulk exports to be managed at one place, and there is plenty of room to co-locate freight partners and meet their warehousing needs.

“With freight volumes expected to increase in the decades ahead, this intermodal hub will be a crucial freight centre for the lower North Island.”

The hub is designed to accommodate longer, more economical 1,500 metre trains – a 60 per cent increase in length and capacity – which will increase capacity.

KiwiRail is now working with local councils and stakeholders to identify sites near Palmerston North where the hub could be built.