From the third decade of the present century vigorous sustainable growth has occurred in most countries in a networks of thriving ConnectedCities linked by a radically improved local rail networks.
Energy consumption and carbon emissions have fallen markedly as a result of the shift to rail. Sixty percent of the workforce now travel to work by public transport, by bicycle or on foot. Many more now live close to the countryside.
ConnectedCities are clusters of separate towns in the countryside linked by railways. Each ConnectedCity has a recognisable city centre in the hub town, usually the largest, from which its sister towns are no more than 15 minutes rail journey.
Almost all development in the ConnectedCities has been within 1km of a station, in walkable areas called pedsheds. People use weather protected pathways to get to their local station. Cars are not excluded, but are mainly used to travel to places not accessible by public transport.
ConnectedCities have generated wealth. Their prosperity is due to their plentiful sites and easily accessed workforce; the larger economic units they created, and the ease with which everyone can get to all the facilities of their ConnectedCity and beyond.
The previously under-utilised railways within and between the ConnectedCities have modern trains and infrastructure. The inter-town routes have frequent, metro-style services and some routes have on-demand services. The many new pedshed developments along the railways have both contributed to and benefited from the improved services. The public subsidy to local rail is lower.
Every pedshed has unique features. Some are in an older town, where a growth zone around the station is now a vibrant new centre, incorporating the old centre or linked to it by a pedestrian mall. Some are new green quarters on the edge of a town, where a new station serves both part of the town and new greenfield development. Others are new green towns, built around village stations or new stations in the countryside.
The core of the pedshed is a high-density mixed-use development around the station. Here are most of its retail and social facilities, and apartments for people without children. Further from the station villages of family houses with private gardens and communal greens are separated by green corridors of trees, open spaces and food plots.
House prices in ConnectedCities are relatively low. Land around the towns is protected from development. It produces food for local consumption, and much of it is publicly accessible.
Every ConnectedCity has a master plan, usually made originally by the local authorities under a co-operation agreement. Each now has a single council. Together these councils cover most of the country.
The ConnectedCities model has ensured that growth is widely distributed across a whole country. The rate of growth in mega cities has declined and, No-one has to move too far to find a home. In many ConnectedCities, development is happening simultaneously at several locations.
Towns and villages not on the rail network have had very little growth, as development pressures were released by expansion in the pedsheds of the ConnectedCities. Combined with the policy of only building within I km of a station, this has preserved the traditional pattern of small towns in the countryside.
ConnectedCity councils are working with partners in the public and private sectors to improve the transport network, re-open disused rail lines and create new inter-town routes, which transform rural towns into connected towns, and enable them to be part of the prosperity which the ConnectedCities model of sustainable development brings.