Dwellings Over Railways

The VFT2 High Speed Rail/Fast Freight Rail (HSR/FFR) concept envisages building 400,000 dwellings above inner-city HSR and suburban rail in trenches for 30km into and out of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane CBDs. Sale of the dwellings would pay for the total construction cost of the HSR/FFR project between the three cities. The dwellings would be built and sold during the railway construction period of 10 years. The original fixed costs would not need to be recovered through higher fares over 40 years of operations.

The VFT2 concept is a special case of the general principle of building dwellings over a cities’ whole suburban railway systems. There are many suburban lines of 15-30km radiating from CBDs that can have a trench dug next to them, new tracks and stations built in the trenches without interruption to train services, remove level crossings, build 4 stories of dwellings above the trenches and up to 8 stories over stations, when construction is complete transfer trains from the old tracks to the new, and sell the dwellings to pay for the cost of construction of dwellings and railways.

Inner-city dwellings over tracks within walking distance of 1km to railway stations for jobs and shops would be very desirable to buyers. Walking and bicycle tracks and gardens would be situated on the connected rooves to stations and to CBDs. It would be like the “High Line” in New York. The dwellings would provide convenient residences for 3-400,000 more people in each city, rather than in city fringes or middle-city densification of leafy suburbs. 

While dwellings built over suburban rail would not alone solve the problem of the cities doubling in population in 4-5 decades as projected, they would contribute substantially and economically. This form of densification would be less disruptive, cheaper and more acceptable than that planned: buying high priced ¼ acre blocks in leafy areas, demolishing the single dwelling and building 4 dwelling of 2 stories in its place. As this other sort of development increases in a suburb, there will be a tipping point where the growing numbers force down property values, which will accelerate this densification at lower land cost. It will devalue earlier densification property values in the area. It would decrease owners’ prosperity.

Dwellings over suburban rail increase adjacent property values as railways cease to be seen and heard. This unearned property value increase would attract a small rise in land tax to pay for government infrastructure costs needed for the larger population. The additional dwellings would add to housing affordability. They would hold their value because of their convenience and contribute to a healthy lifestyle. They would suit city emergency service personnel instead of the more remote city fringes.

An approximation of the number of people who could be accommodated in each city on railways is: above HSR, 200,000; above radiating suburban rail, 3-400,000; in 2 new cities on HSR, 2,000,000; giving a total of +2.5m. Introduction of fast rail to regional towns in Victoria would take maybe another 500,000 off the Melbourne population increase, or +3.0m in total. Sydney and Brisbane may have similar opportunities.

This would substantially cut the 4m densification planned for the two largest cities by other, less desirable means and would maintain the cities’ precious spatial liveability. As dwellings above railways are self-funding and as new cities on HSR in regions have lower government infrastructure costs, these forms of distributing population increase are lower cost than major densification of inner/middle suburbs of major cities not over railways. They protect world-leading liveability and prosperity.

For further information please visit website www.veryfasttrain.com.au


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