Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, has stated that a cultural change is required so that the railway becomes accustomed to operating the kind of service frequencies more commonly associated with a metro system.

The new technology to enable the change is being rolled out. Frequent rail services enable local authorities and developers to deliver sustainable development of both market and affordable housing in healthy communities where active travel and frequent, reliable public transport are the norm 

The rail system must be the spines for green growth, both economic and housing

Rail’s long distance services are excellent, but is vital to provide better local services to uplift local connectivity and hence productivity of the UK, and also to enable the modal shift necessary to achieve Net Zero - see Introduction below

Upgrading local rail has the potential to increase national productivity, active travel and achieving Net Zero - thereby solving the three national crises of the NHS, decarbonisation and housing by putting rail at the core of communities


Great British Railways - a public service that supports achieving net zero across the whole economy

The Williams-Shapps Plan states:

Outside cities the rail system has a lot of spare capacity – except at pinchpoints where the lines into a big city converge. Between the pinchpoints there are excellent opportunities for groups of towns along the lines to use rail to provide public transport equal to that in London - Metroisation.

Connecting towns by an upgraded rail system will enable them to function as a larger whole, bringing the benefits of higher GVA, reducing carbon emissions and improving health and well-being outcomes through higher active and public mode shares. Together the towns form a ConnectedCity and plan their growth to enable people to live a sustainable country lifestyle that also has the benefits of the city - providing new housing, and using the land value uplift to generate income for GBR.

Modal Shift and Net Zero

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has calculated that to achieve Net Zero by the deadline set in the UK Climate Change Act the mode share for public transport must increase by 24% for short journeys and 14% for longer journeys. These targets go far beyond the UK’s existing ‘best practice’ benchmarks. Emphasis must be particularly on journeys between 5 and 30 kilometres, as these produce the greatest emissions.

The National Infrastructure Commission states that currently in towns 80% trips to employment, services & social participation are by car compared with 64 per cent in cities excluding London, 41 per cent in outer London and 16 per cent in inner London. It warns that, as populations increase continued reliance on cars will inevitably lead to greater congestion, bringing some towns close to a ‘tipping point’

Opportunity for Rail

There are 1186 towns in the England and Wales and 971 (82%) have a station

The RTPI proposes

Only rail can achieve these targets. In 2019, greenhouse gas emissions from rail made up just 1.4% of the UK's domestic transport emissions, while carrying 9% of passenger miles

Integrating transport and planning is essential for Net Zero, as emissions from transport (24%) are greater than those from buildings (16%). Local Development Plans are a blue-print for an area for the next 15 to 30 years. Currently housing targets are often allocated land in Local Plans without an understanding of the transport consequences.

ConnectedCities and its partners Space Syntax and Geodesignhub are developing an integrated set of tools that can be used by local governments and stakeholders throughout the UK, and potentially across the world. This ‘disruptive technology’ will put Great British Railways at the heart of the UK’s green growth and recovery.

A Metro for Greater Bristol and beyond 

Rail at Heart of Development in Greater Manchester  

A Metro for Greater Exeter and Devon

Reopening a Freight Line 

Running metro services on existing rail tracks enables the creation of ConnectedCities in which rail is at the heart of all new development

Rail lines are the spines on which greener Net Zero growth occurs