This animated map shows how radically a high-speed train system would improve travel in the US
Right. We already have air, which is cheaper than rail, by a huge amount, requires less carbon creating infrastructure, is fast, and is the safest form or mass transportation. Not a whole lot of room in their for slow, cludgy, expensive, and more deadly rail.
Then there is the cost. California is planning to build a high speed rail system from SF to LA, and this will cost a huge amount. They keep fudging the numbers but with rail the best assumption is to take the highest quoted number and double it. Then pray. That number is California is about $100 billion, so doubled it would be $200 billion. That accounts for 800 miles or so of rail.
The US is slightly larger than 800 miles. It would take a minimum of 10X that amount of track to crisscross the nation north and south, east and west. Is anyone insane enough to think that expenditure could ever be recovered within 35 years, because the total rail system down to the last piece needs to be replaced in 35 years, and the rolling stock even more often.
And for what benefit? The pollution, and carbon costs of the initial construction would be incomprehensible, and they would reoccur every 35 years. Plus, the engine dragging all that unnecessary weight of the train makes rail not particularly fuel efficient.
Then there is the entire time wasting problem. America is about 3,000 miles across (San Francisco to Washington D.C. 2,817 miles). Without stops, a train traveling at the California High Speed Rail top speed of 220 mph would take about 14 hours. Compared to about 6 hours by air. With stops it would likely take nearly a full day. I can only imagine the throngs of people signing up for slow, expensive dangerous transportation, compared to fast, cheap, and safe transportation. Ok, I can't.
Trains are cool 19th century technology, and for hauling heavy freight, they are brilliant, and still very valuable. But for hauling light humans? Trains are an idiotic idea, and high speed trains are even more idiotic since the infrastructural costs, pollution, and carbon are greater.
High speed rail is a fools fantasy, the Unicorn that hopefully got away.