Yesterday’s announcement of the preferred site for the KiwiRail Regional Freight Hub reinforces Manawatū’s strength and position to overcome the choppy economic outlook brought on by COVID-19.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones was in the region to announce the new site of the inter-modal freight hub located between Palmerston North city and Bunnythorpe, funded through a $40 million PGF investment. The announcement comes following KiwiRail’s 12-month engagement with stakeholders, iwi and a team of independent specialists to identify potential site options.

The region has significant locational advantages and connections to transport corridors. The central location of our region means that the Freight Hub will have access to New Plymouth, Napier and Wellington Ports making it New Zealand’s largest freight destination outside of Auckland. The Freight Hub site is strategically positioned next to major distribution companies in the city’s north-east industrial zone, and close proximity to Palmerston North Airport, and will help meet the needs of future freight volumes across the lower North Island.

“Our central location means our logistics and distribution sector has been a significant growth sector which is accelerating at pace.” says Chair of CEDA, Malcolm Bailey.

“Our vision for Manawatū to be New Zealand’s most progressive region by 2025, is underpinned by three big goals, one of which is for our region to be recognised as a leading distribution hub that leverages off its role in central New Zealand – something clearly demonstrated with this significant announcement.”

“Projects such as the KiwiRail Regional Freight Hub, and the commitment demonstrated through Government funding will bring billions of further investments into the region, and with that comes additional jobs for our people.”

Ray Mudgway, Investment Manager at CEDA and RMC² is pleased with the announcement of the Freight Hub’s preferred location, and believes that, along with the region’s other infrastructure projects, Manawatū’s economic recovery post COVID-19 is looking bright.

“We’ll be seeing even more growth in the region now that this work is underway. Investments in logistics and transport will benefit all of central New Zealand as well as being an important and integral part of New Zealand’s transport and logistics network.”

“We’re already renowned for being a key distribution and logistics hub for the lower North Island and the announcement by Minister Jones only cements this and will provide a critical, strategic connection between the North Island rail network and short-haul road operators, supporting regional freight growth overall for New Zealand.”

CEDA is supporting the work led by Palmerston North City Council to develop an overarching infrastructure strategy for the city and region, which will encompass the Regional Ring Road, Te Ahu a Turanga: Manawatū Tararua Highway, and the Regional Freight Hub, among other catalyst projects. The Freight Hub announcement reinforces the importance of having a unified strategy and vision to unlock the regions potential for the benefit of New Zealand as a whole. The strategy is to be completed later this year.

The Freight Hub will include a log yard, significant warehousing for distribution businesses, a container terminal along with a base for KiwiRail’s operations, creating the ultimate inland port for the lower North Island. The integration of these services and facilities will set the standard for New Zealand logistics and support the growth of Palmerston North as a key distribution and logistics hub well into the future.

Further Information

KiwiRail is now working to engage one-on-one with directly affected landowners and are also seeking wider stakeholder and public feedback on the project, as part of finalising the design and developing mitigations. Feedback from the community is a crucial part of final design process.

The community can attend the public drop-in sessions to be held in Bunnythorpe and Palmerston North over the coming weeks, as well as online. Alternatively, a digital survey and interactive map is available for those wanting to contribute feedback, and can be found here.

For more information, visit the KiwiRail project hub here.

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