Some thoughts on high-speed rail – part 4: Land value creation

`The estimated functions show that HSR accessibility has at most a minor effect on house prices” in Taiwan. [Andersson et al., 2010]

Examination of local land uses around international high-speed rail stations suggests that were it not for commuter traffic, the effects on land use will not necessarily be localized near the station, the way they would with a public transit station. Downtown stations, if they were to see land use benefits, should see higher local densities, higher local rents, and the construction of air rights over the station and local yards.

Eurostar is a heavily used high-speed rail line connecting London and Paris, serving 9.2 million passengers per year. Gare du Nord in Paris, which serves Eurostar, has local land uses largely indistinguishable from other areas of Paris. St. Pancras in London similarly. Ebbsfleet International Rail Station and Ashford International Rail Station are surrounded by surface parking lots.

Tokaido Shinkansen, connecting Tokyo and Osaka and serving 151 million passengers annually, is an order of magnitude more successful. The densities around stations on this line are visibly higher, but still air rights are partially, but not fully developed, indicating limits to how valuable the land is, even in Tokyo. Shin-Osaka station is adjacent to surface parking lots.

The development effects are not local (unlike public transit stations), which is not surprising since if they are serving long distance travel they are also serving less frequent travel, and as a consequence the advantages of being local to the station are weaker. Where they share space with local transit system hubs, the effects would be difficult to disentangle.