The ethics of rail travel; or, what George Eliot can teach us about HS2
Whilst no-one would question the economic advantages of a high-speed rail network connecting major cities in the UK, there is still little agreement about the feasibility of the government’s £50 billion HS2 project. My talk will apply an analysis of George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1874) to this issue, asking how the writer’s critique of railroads might inform an ethically sensitive approach to HS2. Are the benefits only felt by city dwellers? Can the wealth railways generate be equitably distributed? Are they socially divisive? These questions pertain as much to HS2 as they did to rail travel in England in the nineteenth century.