A new rail hub for the shipment and processing of logs will be built in the Rangitīkei district, near the town of Marton.
The facility will be supported with NZ$9.1 million ($8.3m) from the government’s $3 billion COVID-19 response and recovery fund.
Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said that the hub would get more freight onto rail.
“This rail hub will not only attract more commercial developments to the immediate area, it will also take freight trucks off the roads.”
The local council expects the hub, which will include a debarker facility, will create roughly 83 jobs during construction and 22 full time jobs once operational.
Improved efficiencies created by the Marton facility, located in an existing freight centre, will combine logistics efficiencies.
“Marton is central to significant forests in Rangitīkei, Manawatū and Horowhenua regions that are mature and will continue to produce mature trees and increased volumes for the next 15 years. It is also a key service town for agriculture in the area, making it a good location for a freight hub,” said Jones.
“Parts of this region are deprived, with few options for economic development. This construction project will benefit the building and associated industries, boosting the local economy and keeping people in jobs. It also provides potential for the region to diversify and boost the local economy.”
KiwiRail has announced that the Napier-Wairoa line has been reinstated following several years of disuse.
The 115-kilometre, North Island line fell into disuse in December 2012 after being damaged by a storm and was not repaired. It has been restored with the allocation of NZ$6.2 million in funds through the New Zealand Government’s Provincial Growth Fund.
The line’s primary purpose is to run freight logs for the local timber industry. Reopening the line is set to ease congestion on the roads and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the number of log deliveries by road. In all, KiwiRail anticipates an initial reduction of more than 5,000 ruck journey per year on the road from Wairoa to Napier, to increase to 15,000 as services increase.
‘The Wairoa-Napier road was never intended to cope with the volume of logs that is coming on stream, and rail is the ideal way to get that timber to overseas customers,” said KiwiRail Group chief executive officer Greg Miller.
“The overall funding KiwiRail received has meant we are able to get ahead of the curve and grow our business for the benefit of this region.”
Miller said that now that work on the line had been completed, KiwiRail would work to establish a log hub in Wairoa so that trains could begin to run in time for harvesting at the end of winter.
“We know from our discussions with the forestry industry there is a need for our services,” he said.
“The amount of timber flowing from forests in the region is expected to quadruple in the next four years, and to get all those logs to market will require all transport networks working efficiently together.”