High Speed Rail and Property 2013

OVERVIEW

The ABS predicts in its medium growth series, that the national population will reach 35.5 million by 2056. Unless current trends are prevented, the majority of the population growth will be experienced in and around the state capital cities, placing significant strain on the supporting infrastructure.

Constructing a reliable and timely alternative mode of transportation such as High Speed Rail (HSR), would substantially improve accessibility for the regional centres it served, and provide opportunity for regional development. This could assist in deterring the growing concentration of residents around capital cities.

HSR would provide a viable alternative to the third highest frequency air corridor between Sydney and Melbourne. For example, the report states that high-speed rail travel would reduce the current 11-hour train trip between Sydney and Melbourne to less than three hours, making it competitive with air travel in the total journey time between the two cities central business districts. HSR could be used to link the Sydney region to the international airports of Newcastle and/or Canberra. By linking the airports of the neighbouring cities around Sydney, HSR could provide a viable alternative to Sydney's air travel congestion in more ways than one.

There are significant benefits in the convenience of accessing one mode versus another (for example, journey times to airports versus journey times to an HSR station).

Reliability and punctuality, particularly considering current congestion at airports and on motorways.

A city transport hub with good local, subregional and regional services is important.

The ability to release land, including railway land, for mixed-use development, including offices, residential, conference facilities, public services and open space is important. To secure the land needed for the project, local councils and state governments would have to forfeit potential short term revenue gains from land sales to prevent the kind of overbuilding that has stymied long-term projects like the proposed second airport for Sydney. There must first be coordinated quarantining of land from residential and industrial development for the construction of the track, a critical planning issue for all tiers of government.

A development corporation or similar organisation is needed to undertake collaborative public-private real estate development in the station precincts.

There needs to be a mix of public and private sector investment because the private sector will not invest in station precincts without a clear public sector commitment.

Regional locations within two hours travel by HSR that have capacity for increases in business growth could assist in making the metropolitan centres more globally competitive by providing less congested future growth options. In the Commonwealth report, commonly occurring assets and qualities were identified that can facilitate regional development. Complementary regional assets include the following:

High speed internet, such as Australias NBN program.

Universities and technical education facilities.

Hospitals and bio-medical research centres.

Well developed and supportive public governance and business-to-business connections within a region and between a region and a major metropolitan centre.

Cultural, recreational and tourist amenities that attract visitors from outside the region.

Quality-of-life amenities and cost-of-living benefits, such as a favourable climate, affordable housing choices, access to recreational and sporting opportunities and a less congested living environment.

INVESTMENT OUTLOOK

Development of HSR will be a catalyst for economic and social progression in capital cities, city fringe suburbs and regional/coastal towns. Residents who commute to work within the Central Business District (CBD) of the capital cities will be able to utilise HSR from city fringe suburbs. This will alleviate pressure on infrastructure and housing affordability in the inner and middle ring suburbs. Regional and coastal areas will experience increased demand for property through the transference of a skilled workforce, increased employment opportunities and higher levels of tourism. Commuters can travel both to and from regional areas, so some areas might experience small gains in local jobs but, overall, regional incomes rise because of higher wage gains by commuters working in higher paying jobs in larger centres.

PRDnationwide expects the combination of carefully planned public and private sector investment with a high level rapid transit infrastructure to attract businesses to the regional areas of Australia. This would in turn pull new residents into the area creating further demand for real estate. Once the HSR is established expect values to increase as the regions will likely be undersupplied. Rental vacancy rates could also tighten, pushing weekly rents higher and improving investment yields.