Land deals sealed for $200bn high-speed east-coast rail link

Land deals sealed for $200bn high-speed east-coast rail link, by Sarah Martin.

Land deals have been struck for an ambitious $200 billion private sector plan for high-speed rail ­offering two-hour trips between Melbourne and Sydney, which is being “aggressively” pursued and presented to state and federal governments for support.

Work on the 40-year nation-building infrastructure project, which would create eight new ­regional cities, could begin within five years if it wins support from three tiers of government and ­affected communities. The private company behind the ambitious plan, Consolidated Land and Rail Australia (CLARA), has met Malcolm Turnbull and the Victorian and NSW governments to seek support for the project, which it claims will not require any capital investment from taxpayers.

No taxpayer support. That makes a pleasant change for these projects. So how will it be financed?

CLARA co-founder and chairman Nick Cleary said the project could be funded through the “value capture” of land that would be transformed from mostly ­farming land to new city ­developments.

Under the value-capture model, land bought for $1000 a lot could be sold for housing for up to $150,000, allowing the profit margin to developers to fund the rail and civil infrastructure needed. …

“We don’t anticipate asking any level of government for a ­direct financial injection; what we really need is the assistance to plan out these communities to secure the corridors of the rail which state governments have to do. …

The company also intends to fund the acquisition of the rail ­corridor, estimated at $1.2bn, but the legal apparatus to do so rests with the states and could be done through compulsory acquisition.