Transport & Infrastructure buckle under population growth

Regular readers will know that I have always believed that the best locations to own property are land-locked capital city suburbs, particularly in the large capital cities where the strongest population growth takes place.

I also place a heavy emphasis on rail links.

While bus routes and bus lanes can be chopped and changed over time, trains can beat traffic congestion and most major lines will remain in trains

Moving rail links is phenomenally difficult and cost prohibitive.

Sydney, a little like my home city of Sheffield in England, is a conurbation which once had an extensive tram system.

From 1879 to 1961 the Sydney tramway network was one of the largest in the world before its closure, ironically in part due to overcrowding.

Today it is the street traffic which is becoming overcrowded, and light rail is considered to be one of the solutions.

And here‘s where the latest line extension will run, opening up the south eastern suburbs to city access:

“A central element of delivering Sydney’s Light Rail Future is the CBD and South East Light Rail project (CSELR). 

This new light rail line will extend from Circular Quay along George Street to Central Station, through Surry Hills to Moore Park, then to Kensington and Kingsford via Anzac Parade and Randwick via Alison Road and High Street.”

Population growth pressures

Population growth has been very strong in Australia’s four largest capital cities over the decades, reflected in the state and territory figures below.


Moreover, population growth in the four most populous states is now much, much faster than it ever used to be.


The Internerational Report suggested that Big Australia is set to give way to Huge Australia as the population surges towards 40 million

Infrastructure buckles

Our capital city road networks are going to be a nightmare in the future.traffic car congestion

In fact, many are already.

There has been a huge increase in the number of vehicles on Australia’s roads, up from 15.67 million in 2009 to a staggering 17.63 million by 2014.

Meanwhile, new car sales on a trend basis moved close to their highest ever level in April, as I analysed here.

Our experiences in London have shown us that properties located close to Tube stations can command a hefty premium, which is perhaps unsurprising given that nobody drives anywhere in The Smoke these days.

And the same will be true in Australia’s four largest capital cities in the future too – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.

Reports ABC News:

“Travel times in parts of Australian capital cities could more than double by 2031 without transport investment, while congestion could cost the economy more than $53 billion, a new report warns. 

The Infrastructure Australia audit also predicts public transport demand will nearly double

The report, titled Our Infrastructure Challenges, will be launched by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs in Sydney today.

“By the end of the year, for the first time in Australia’s history, we should have a well thought through plan for our infrastructure for the next 15 years.”

IA says the cost of road delays in the six largest capital cities was $13.7 billion in 2011, but is projected to grow by around 290 per cent to $53.3 billion in 2031 without measures including new roads and more public transport funding.

The report says car travel times in the most gridlocked parts of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra are expected to jump by at least 20 per cent if there no measures to boost capacity or curb demand.

“In some cases, travel times could more than double between 2011 and 2031,” the report says. The report proposes introducing dedicated lanes for carpooling, buses and trucks.

The audit estimates Australia’s population will grow to 30.5 million in 2031, with the biggest four cities growing by around 45 per cent.

“It tells us there’s a really good problem in Australia, which is we’ve got a lot of growth. That means we need a lot of infrastructure investment,” Mr Briggs said.

“In the big cities the growth is extraordinary and it just shows that Australia is a great place with great potential, but we need more infrastructure to make the most of it.”
The report predicts public transport demand will more than double in Melbourne, and jump by 55 per cent in Sydney, and nearly 90 per cent across other capital cities.

“Unless peak period passenger loads are managed and capacity is increased, commuters in all capital cities will see more services experiencing ‘crush loadings’, where peak demand exceeds capacity,” the report says.

The Federal Government’s top infrastructure advisory body also predicts demand for flights will double and additional airport capacity will be needed in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne.

It also says increased private and public funding will be needed to maintain and grow infrastructure networks.

“We’re increasingly going to need the private sector to be involved in infrastructure investment,” Mr Briggs said.

“Finances for the government are always going to be finite at the federal and state level, and the private sector wants to be involved.”

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Pete Wargent


Pete Wargent is a Chartered Accountant, Chartered Secretary and has a Financial Planning Diploma. He’s achieved financial freedom at the age of 33 - as detailed in his book ‘Get a Financial Grip – A Simple Plan for Financial Freedom’. Pete now manages his investment portfolio, travels and works as a consultant in the finance industry from time to time. Visit his blog

'Transport & Infrastructure buckle under population growth' have 1 comment

  1. May 27, 2015 @ 7:54 pm Em

    Thanks for your article.
    I’m perturbed by the tendency of planners to encourage public transport to head from the suburbs into the city. This is a GREAT thing for rail lines and I agree with your comments on rising values for well placed property near train routes. However, it seems to me that bus routes could travel station to station (in the suburbs) so commuters can take advantage of direct rail rather than “competing” with rail by running into the city as well. This would be particularly helpful in some suburbs of Perth where to reach an adjoining suburb it is currently necessary to travel into Perth city then out again… who wouldn’t prefer to drive in that situation!


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