government should sell surplus land they own to high speed rail developers

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me_little_me

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If you're talking about selling the land for the HSR right-of-way, I don't know of any issues where government has been the problem. Mostly it's private landowners and those that think having usage rights on government land are owed those rights forever.

If you're talking about selling valuable land in one area to private owners so they can make enough big bucks to pay for a HSR project in another location, that's just begging for fraud, theft, and the loss of important land that benefits a few at the expense of the rest of us.

Government can sell land to build HSR itself given that the land is really surplus. But everyone in the country would want that money for their own purposes - more defense, more welfare assistance, more schools, more airports, more roads, more you-name-it.
 

MARC Rider

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Actually, Amtrak is right now involved in various real-estate deals to sell development rights (mostly air rights over tracks) at some of their major stations, including new York, Philadelphia, Washington, and Baltimore. These sorts of deals are really complicated, and the kind of real estate developers who you have to deal with are what you might consider "sharks." Thus, what me_little_me says is absolutely true. You need to watch these guys like a hawk to make sure that the public owners maximize the amount of money they yield from these deals.
 

VentureForth

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Japan Rail - arguably the only profitable transit company - make a good chunk of their money through real estate. They even also own their own powerplants that supply power to their railroads. A lot of third tier rail companies in Japan are department stores. The railroad is their loss leader, getting employees and customers to their stores.

I see Brightline trying to follow this model to a degree. Rail alone is too expensive to be self sustaining. Amtrak's problem is that they are trying - and failing miserably - to make each business unit profitable instead of allowing the profitable sustain the necessary.
 

me_little_me

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I agree with VentureForth. As I have stated previously in other threads, both Amtrak and transit need to be more businesslike in that they quietly buy the rights to purchase the land for their stations, e.g. along with land around those stations and then announce that the station will be built. Amtrak wants others to take responsibility for building and owning stations and so loses out on the value they are providing by having the train stop there. Of course, in many cases, they don't own the stations already. In those cases, they should consider buying the property as is using eminent domain, then making it and the area around it more valuable.
For air rights over track they own, they should lease it out in many cases, insuring that they get a portion of future profits and not just sell it at give-away prices.
Businesses such as Brightline and big land-owning companies do this on a regular basis. You quietly buy the land at existing value, announce you are putting in the facilities, then make money by leasing or selling it. You lease it if you expect to be a continuing operation because its value will increase if you get riders to use your trains. You sell it if you are looking for short-term profits.
 

jiml

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It's the McDonald's model. They make their money from real estate; burgers are a sideline - still a profitable sideline, as opposed to "loss-leader", but not their primary source of wealth.
 

Bob Dylan

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It's the McDonald's model. They make their money from real estate; burgers are a sideline - still a profitable sideline, as opposed to "loss-leader", but not their primary source of wealth.
They also make $$$ from the Franchisees by selling them Supplies,taking a % of the Sales and charging them "Advertising fees",

I've read that to start a McDonalds Franchise now you need to invest a Minimum of $2 Million!😲
 

jis

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The bottom line is that rail operations that are unable to recapture the increase in value of properties along its ROW on an ongoing basis, tend to not work out as well financially as those that manage to do so. There are many possible mechanisms to enable capture of the value back into running the thing that maintains the value.

This is not just true of railways. If tax collection in the locality through which a road runs were insufficient to maintain the roads, they would also not be maintained, as has been observed in some inner city areas that have been financially devastated for various reasons and mismanagement.
 

VentureForth

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Many of the Japanese railroads are built elevated to reduce grade crossings. They then rent the space below the tracks for retail. One train line that a friend of mine lived near actually converted the ENTIRE train line into a subway! I don't know how they did it, but the Keio line was moved completely underground over less than 5 years starting in 2009. I think it was similar to what NYC did with the ELs back in the 20's but still, it's an amazing feat to pull off in the modern era. Point is, when there is a will, there is a way. I presume Keio kept all the real estate above ground and lease it.
 
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