Niel Pierce has a column for the National League of Cities web site. He takes quite a strong positron on financing true European style HSR (not entirely against) but writes about the current situation with a great deal of clarity.
But a robust American rail system is about more than tracks and train sets. It will make us less oil dependent, undergirding our national security. It will lower our carbon emissions. And it can contribute in a big way to the mobility and economic health of “megaregions,” those metropolitan areas where most Americans now live.
A prime example: the prospect of a Chicago-centered “hub and spoke” rail system to serve the Midwest. With top train speeds increased to 110 miles an hour, two hours would be trimmed off the Chicago-Detroit or Chicago-Cleveland runs. Equally vital: the convenience of frequent service. Chicago-Detroit daily round trips would rise from three to nine, for example, and Chicago-Milwaukee service from eight to 17.