The estimated cost of the UK’s HS2 high-speed rail line, until recently planned to connect London and Manchester by 2040, has risen over £100 billion. This staggering figure, among other concerns, motivated Prime Minister Sunak’s decision to cancel the line’s northern half between Birmingham and Manchester. Economic theory, however, can provide range of justifications for why the government should intervene to provide improved, or more environmentally-friendly, transport links. Empirical research has linked transport improvements to poverty, inequality, health, and educational outcomes. Consider such theoretical and empirical evidence and then answer the following question:
What are the most convincing (economics-based) arguments in favour of the government reversing course and investing in the full HS2 line from London to Manchester?
You should consider both theoretical justifications for government intervention in transport markets as well as how HS2’s construction could interact with other government roles and affect environmental, health, or educational outcomes—this crosscutting topic asks you to take a broad view of the entire term. Your arguments should be supported by theoretical economic analysis, literature references (in particular, to scholarly journals in economics), real-world examples, and references to guest lectures.
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