KiwiRail

KiwiRail selects site for Palmerston North freight hub

KiwiRail have announced the preferred location for the Regional Freight Hub near Palmerston North.

The intermodal Hub will be located between Palmerston North Airport and Bunnythorpe and occupy a 2.5km long site. The length of the site will allow it to accommodate 1.5km long trains, much longer than what is now possible on the KiwiRail network.

Designs are currently being finalised and KiwiRail hopes to have the land designated for rail use from September 2020. When complete, the site will be a focus point for freight in the central and lower North Island, said KiwiRail group chief executive Greg Miller.

“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.”

Due to the efficiencies provided by the Hub, the site will help remove trucks from roads in the region.

“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,” said Miller.

“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.”

Public consultations are now beginning and KiwiRail has been in contact with affected landowners. Miller will be leading public meetings in and around Palmerston North in the coming weeks.

The Regional Freight Hub has been financed through a $40 million investment from the NZ government’s Provincial Growth Fund.

“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,” said Miller.

Hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in New Zealand’s KiwiRail network

The New Zealand Government has announced a further $109.7 million rail investment in Northland rail freight on the KiwiRail network.

This follows the injection of  $211 million to upgrade Wellington networks and services for Auckland rail.

Greg Miller, KiwiRail Group chief executive, said the Northland investment will enable hi-cube container freight to be transported by rail in the region for the first time ever.

$69.7m will be spent on lowering tracks in the 13 tunnels between Swanson and Whangarei; reopening the currently mothballed rail line north of Whangarei, between Kauri and Otiria; and building a container terminal at the Otiria rail yard, in Moerewa.

“Currently 18m tonnes of cargo is moved in and out of the region every year. Of that, around 30,000 containers leave Northland by road. Most aren’t able to fit through the tunnels, but this investment will change that – opening up a whole new market to rail,” Miller said.

“The tunnel work will have a huge impact on how freight is moved in and out of Northland.

“I’m really impressed by the ingenuity of KiwiRail’s engineering staff to be able to lower the tracks in the tunnels – which is a lot less expensive than boring bigger tunnels.”

This is the second Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment in Northland rail, following the $94.8m provided to make significant improvements to the Northland Line between Swanson and Whangarei, announced last year.

An additional $40m will be used by KiwiRail to purchase land along the designated rail route between Oakleigh and Northport/Marsden Point.

Miller said works in Auckland have already commenced, and will be completed in about four years.

“The third main adds an extra rail line between Westfield and Wiri in South Auckland, a section of line that is congested with freight trains going to and from Ports of Auckland and Port of Tauranga, and increasingly frequent metro commuter services. For CRL to deliver the level of commuter service Auckland needs, the 3rd main is crucial,” he said.

David Gordon, KiwiRail chief operating officer – capital projects and asset development, said work on the Wairarapa Line will start later this year, following the government’s $96m investment announced in 2018.

“$70m will be spent on improving the signalling system and track approach to Wellington Station, particularly the area north of the stadium where the Johnsonville, Hutt Valley, and Kapiti Lines all come together,” Gordan said.

A $15m investment in carriages for the Capital Connection service will allow KiwiRail to fully refurbish ex-Auckland Transport carriages including new interiors, seats, and toilets.

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.