Research finds $140 billion case for high-speed rail

A high-speed rail network on Australia’s east coast could boost land values ​​and property prices around high-speed stations by up to $140 billion, preliminary research shows.

Professor Christophe Pettit

Land value growth could be used to fund high-speed rail projects and support the creation of more livable cities and regions, a survey report from the University of NSW, based on a combination of infrastructure and planning-related value enhancement calculations, found.

“Based on our estimates of the increase in value related to infrastructure combined with our scenarios “what if” for the increase in value related to planning, there could be a potential increase in the value of the order $48 billion to $140 billion,” the report concludes.

“Therefore, we propose that there is a substantial opportunity to finance high-speed rail through an increase in value.”

The analysis is based on proposed high-speed rail lines running from Melbourne to Sydney (by 2040) and Sydney to Brisbane (by 2058), with branch lines to Canberra and the Gold Coast.

Creation of premium properties

One of the report’s authors, Chris Pettit, director of the UNSW City Futures Research Center, said rising land values ​​around a high-speed rail network could create high-end properties due to faster and easier access to CBD.

“The increase in value is related to the increase in land and property values ​​attributed to new infrastructure that has come in,” Prof Pettit said. Government News.

“It’s that measurable amount of increase in property value that can be attributed to a transformational piece of infrastructure, like a subway line or light rail.

“That accessibility to public transport, to high-quality transport like a metro, people will pay a premium for that.”

(Source: Preliminary investigation report on the increase in the value of high-speed trainsCenter for Research on the Future of the City)
(Source: Preliminary investigation report on the increase in the value of high-speed trainsCenter for Research on the Future of the City)

For the purposes of their study, their definition of high-speed rail was that it “operates on dedicated tracks at a maximum speed of between 250 and 300 kilometers per hour, with some systems now operating at over 300 kilometers per time”. ”.

Habitable regions

A high-speed rail network could also help manage Australia’s growing population and create vibrant, livable regional centers

East Coast High Speed ​​Rail Project (Department of Infrastructure and Transportation)

“If you look at the high-speed train in Europe that connects León to Paris, there have been benefits both for Paris as well as for León and the other stations, so we see benefits in both directions,” said Professor Petty.

“At the Research Centre, we believe high-speed rail could truly be a nation-building project if done correctly and provide a backbone for this future Australian growth corridor,” said Professor Pettit.

“If you don’t have high-quality infrastructure to connect people to existing amenities in Canberra, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, it can be quite difficult to deliver vibrant, high-growth cities and regional hubs. “

Around the world, high-speed rail networks have become centers of attraction for new businesses and retail outlets, he says.

“In Japan…as they move towards very compact urban development, the dynamism of these stations, as high-speed rail stations in their own right, have become quite dynamic mini-cities, and this connectivity and flow of people create their own dynamism.”

Integrated financing

Professor Andrew McNaughton, chairman of Network Rail (High Speed) which runs the UK’s HS1 high-speed line, writes in a foreword to the report that high-speed rail has the potential to breathe new life into cities and parts of the east coast of Australia.

“The study demonstrates the power that a practical mechanism of ratepayers sharing the benefits of increased land value, which high-speed rail drives, would have on the ability to fund this network, thereby reducing the call for investment taxpayer-funded funds needed for other essential services,” he says.

Professor Pettit says it is possible for the federal government to fund national infrastructure in states and territories, but there should be an integrated approach when it comes to increasing value and capturing value .

“Ideally it would be an integrated approach to ensure there is fair capture and distribution of funding,” he said.

The report recommends further investment in financial enhancement instruments and the creation of a national institute for cities to ensure that the potential benefits of a high-speed network are realised.

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Jose P. Rogers