Land acquisition

Although a major rationale for Hot Rails is re-use of the existing rail corridor, there are numerous places in which the existing corridor is not straight enough to enable high-speed use, no matter the degree of cant or tilt adopted. In these sections land will still have to be acquired.

We’ve all seen The Castle – Australia’s constitution allows compulsory acquisition of land by the Commonwealth on just terms. AECOM13 took this a little too far and assumed the government would not only pay for the land it bought, but also a “compensatory uplift”. The reason for this is not clearly explained, but it has the effect of applying a multiplier of a minimum of 2 to a maximum of 10 times fair market value! They manage to budget $3.5 billion for land acquisition along the 1748km route; assuming that a 60m wide corridor must be acquired along the whole of this length (6ha/km), that comes to 10,488ha, and $333,714/ha. That’s mostly rural land, the going rate for which ranges from $1000-$5000/ha depending on quality and block size. Granted, inner-city land can be many times that amount, but AECOM13 generally tunnels under metropolitan areas. Once again, the HSR study seems to have greatly overestimated a cost class. And nowhere do they actually state the cost per hectare that their published numbers add up to – curious!!

Hot Rails will cost land acquisition on a case-by-case basis by comparison with nearby properties for sale on realestate.com.au. A broad estimate of the cost this might comprise is given in the table below. The cost per kilometer is assuming a corridor width of 40m, for which 4ha/km would be required. I have included a cost per “quarter acre block” in order to allow easy comparison with typical property sizes that most people would be familiar with (for the purposes of estimation, I have assumed a “quarter acre” to be equal to 1000 square metres).

Land type Cost/quarter acre Cost/ha Cost/km (40m corridor)
Rural low N/A $1000 $40k
Rural typical N/A $2500 $10k
Rural high N/A $5000 $20k
Hobby farm N/A $250k $1m
Minor town $250k $2.5m $10m
Major town $500k $5m $20m
Metropolitan fringe $750K $7.5m $30m
Metropolitan suburbs $1m $10m $40m
Metropolitan core $2.5m $25m $100m

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