Plan to revive rail spurs will benefit platteland property

The property market trend towards ‘semigration’, or the drift of city dwellers to the country areas, could be given a boost by plans to revive many dormant railway spurs as part of a general overhaul of Transnet.

ERA South Africa property group CEO Gerhard Kotzé takes this view against the background of Transnet’s announcement that it is to restore to use some 3300km of branch lines which have fallen into disrepair.

This is part of a multibillion-rand investment plan announced by the transport parastatal to revamp the country’s rail infrastructure to a world-class standard.
“These lines were clearly an important factor underpinning local economies in many of SA’s platteland towns. Their mothballing and disuse must have had a major impact on these towns, coupled with the development of the country’s major intercity transport system, which has almost consistently involved by-passing towns that were formerly on the main routes.

“Now, ironically, the fact that these small centres are by-passed by the highways is actually an advantage in terms of attracting a new flow of property buyers seeking to leave the crime and grime of the city behind them, but typically also needing to have a catchment area and transport links to sustain a small business.

“That’s where the resuscitation of the railway branch lines would come into the picture in that inevitably their re-opening would spur fresh demand for goods and services, while providing a fresh transport option for agribusiness, which is currently mostly obliged to use road transport.”

Kotzé notes that many country towns have already done well in attracting retirees and increasing numbers of tourists and holidaymakers, but that their small economies have limited their potential to draw new permanent residents.

“What is needed is a more broad-based revival of the platteland through greater economic activity, which will come through improved transport links such as this upgrading of the railway branch lines.”
Issued by ERA South Africa

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