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New Ashburton Rail Hub Welcomed

The Government’s $2 million investment towards a new road-rail hub in Ashburton will improve safety and traffic flows in the town and reduce climate emissions by getting more freight off South Island roads, KiwiRail Group Chief Executive Greg Miller says.

The Government’s announcement this morning is the final piece in the $14 million Fairfield Freight Hub project, which allows KiwiRail to relocate its historic rail container terminal in the centre of Ashburton to the industrial area at Fairton, about five kilometres north of the town.

The project is a joint initiative with the Ashburton District Council, Fairfield Freight Hub Ltd (part of local freight business the Wareing Group) and KiwiRail.

“This is a great collaboration in rural New Zealand. Local government, private equity and a State-Owned Enterprise have worked together, and I’m delighted that the Transport Minister and the Government have got involved to make this happen.

“KiwiRail’s existing container terminal in central Ashburton is too small for today’s freight demand and is a distraction for locals – with trains sometimes blocking roads.

“Mid-Canterbury is a base for moving significant container volumes around New Zealand and to South Island ports, and there is a massive opportunity to encourage more freight onto rail, with the many benefits that brings. By moving KiwiRail’s site to the new Fairfield hub, we’ll be able to increase the amount of local rail freight from 6,000 containers, to 20,000 containers a year. That’s half a million tonnes off the region’s roads.

“This project is a win-win for everyone involved. Not only will it improve safety and remove congestion from central Ashburton, it is supporting businesses and exporters to transport their products to where they need to be. Moving more freight by rail will also reduce transport emissions and lower road maintenance costs by removing the need for around 40,000 truck movements a year.”

Ashburton District Mayor Neil Brown said Government’s $2 million investment had helped bring the long-awaited relocation of the rail hub to fruition.

“This is exciting news for our district, and a great example of people working together. The Ashburton community will be pleased and it will make a big difference to our town.

“Thanks also to Rangitata MP Jo Luxton for her considerable efforts in helping to make this possible.”

Wareing Group director Mark Wareing says the Fairfield Freight Hub project has numerous benefits for the region.

“This project will streamline freight volumes in and out of mid-Canterbury and at the same time reduce the impact trucks and rail have in the middle of the Ashburton township, easing congestion. It’s setting the region up for a lower carbon future and the location near the North Park Industrial Park is ideally located to take advantage of the new hub” Mr Wareing says.

“Helping exporters and freight partners move more freight by rail makes sense both from a business and sustainability perspective and will help stabilise the supply chain issues our clients and their customers are facing.”

Construction of the Fairfield Freight Hub is expected to begin in early 2022 and be completed by late 2022.

Freight operations will continue at KiwiRail’s current Ashburton site on West Street until the Fairfield Hub is open.

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