NZ’s KiwiRail has announced plans for a new intermodal hub in the lower North Island.
The announcement is the first significant investment by state owned KiwiRail in a new terminal in many years. For over a decade since the rail network was renationlised the NZ government has struggled to address the huge cost of deferred maintenance and to keep the track operational. Earlier this year it announced a new plan to grow the rail system, supported with a NZ$1 billion investment in redeveloping the network and supporting infrastructure.
The new intermodal hub will be located near Palmerston North in the Lower North Island. It represents “a bold vision for New Zealand’s logistics sector”, said KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller. The terminal will be three kilometres long and combine a container terminal, warehousing for road transport operators, and bulk goods and forestry loading operations with KiwiRail’s train operations and maintenance facilities.
“This is a major step forward in New Zealand’s approach to freight logistics,” 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.”
“The efficiency improvements will make rail more attractive and help manage the numbers of trucks on our national and regional roads. But we are also planning for the decades ahead, ensuring the hub is designed to accommodate longer, more economical 1,500 metre trains – which is a 60 per cent increase in length and capacity,” KiwRail said. “A purposely designed facility to link rail and road together like this hasn’t been seen in New Zealand,” Miller added.
So far the government has invested NZ$40 million to get the hub development started. This will pay for KiwiRail to design the facility and purchase the land. KiwiRail is now working with local authorities and other stakeholders to identify its preferred site, with a view to a wider consultation next year on designating the land for rail use.