Growing Our Region

Regional freight hub master plan announced

Last month, KiwiRail announced its design concept, known as the Master Plan, for the regional freight hub to be based near Palmerston North.

The timing was apt, as the announcement came almost a year to the day, after central government’s $40 million Provincial Growth Fund to undertake the hub design, was made in November 2018. 
​It is a major development for freight distribution in the Central North Island. Freight volumes are anticipated to increase significantly in the coming decades (New Zealand’s population is expected to reach 6 million by 2050), so it is crucial to have an integrated transport network to support this growth.

​“Palmerston North is an important part of New Zealand’s logistics sector. In an industry where 

reliability is everything, the stable weather, flat plains and access to New Plymouth, Napier and Wellington ports, offers a high level of resilience,” KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller said.

“For these reasons, this city has grown into the largest freight destination outside of Auckland.

“This hub is a nationally significant piece of infrastructure. It points to a bold future for integrated logistics in New Zealand and is something that will grow the economy of Palmerston North and the wider Manawatū-Whanganui region.”

The hub will be situated on a three-kilometre site, combining a container terminal, warehousing, along with bulk goods and forestry operations. The next phase of the project involves identifying potential site options, then confirming the site. This phase will include public notification and further opportunities for public consultation.

KiwiRail have outlined a number of benefits of the regional freight hub, these include:

  • Reducing transport emissions and road costs – every tonne of freight carried by rail has 66 per cent fewer carbon emissions than heavy road freight.
  • Taking pressure off city roads – freight traffic will come out of Palmerston North, reducing congestion.
  • Growing the logistics industry in Manawatū – KiwiRail will work with key customers on major infrastructure requirements to encourage logistics and distribution businesses into the area.

​“The driving idea behind our hub design is to use rail to unlock the value of integrated logistics options – to improve efficiency and reduce costs,” Mr Miller said.

“This “combined services approach” is the kind of supply chain future that KiwiRail is promoting and that New Zealand needs if we are to manage road congestion, escalating roading costs and transport emissions.”

KiwiRail are expecting to seek public feedback on short listed site options for the hub in the New Year and will announce the start of this process.

Visit KiwiRail to find out more, or contact them on