14 Jan 2010

How would the high speed lines be paid for?

"Fast Forward" suggest that...

A variety of funding sources could be available to fund a high-speed line. The beneficiaries of HSR extend well beyond HSR users and include freight as well as passenger, the short-haul air sector as well as road users and rail passengers on the existing network too. In addition to direct Government funding other sources might include:
  • Farebox revenue from HSR users;
  • hypothecated charges on road or aviation users,
  • businesses rates and environmental charges;
  • capital grants from strategic beneficiaries such as airports;
  • regional funding – but which is unlikely under current arrangements to stretch very far.
Interestingly, it continues...
  • There is also likely to be some scope to realise major property value uplifts in the vicinity of HSR stations and these could be used to defray some of the capital cost. The extent to which property gains will materialise is largely dependent on the availability of developable land at station locations as well as economic recovery of the property sector. It should be realised that the values are unlikely to be on the scale available to HS1, which was developed to both serve and exploit the Thames Gateway.
  • For Government, funding levels will need to take into account investments and expenditures that can be foregone (for example upgrades or investments on the classic network and other transport modes and other regional regeneration projects) and reduced revenues on the adjacent classic network
This reveals several things. All the external benefits of infrastructure developments eventually turn up in the shape of enhanced land values. These would automatically be captured if a system of land value taxation (ad valorem taxation of the rental value of land) were in place. As advocates of infrastructure development, Greengauge should be aware of this. If they want their project to go ahead, pushing for the implementation of this tax reform gives them the best chance of getting the schemes to happen. Except that the land value enhancement may or may not justify the investment and some forecast of the impact of the project on land values is a good indication as to whether it is good value for money.

The second point is revealing and borne out by French experience. High speed rail will be competing for funds against other transport investment. We may end up with a wonderful high speed network and large tracts of the country deprived of any train services at all.

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