Transportation Crisis: This is a good article — and a good site — that argues for the creation of a national high-speed rail system. They propose a three-tiered system, starting at the top:
Top Level National System – This level of trains would serve as the national fast system now covered by airplanes. It would consist of all high-speed train lines connecting central cities together into a web of train lines across the nation.
The trains operating at this level would be state-of-the-art Eurostar type trains that regularly travel at 200 â€“300 mph. These trains would offer a wide range of services making it convenient for business and leisure travelers. These would include the full range of seat configurations, lounge and dinning cars, sleeper cars, and business cars with internet connections, and various business and retail services.
Then there are two tiers below that — regional and local.
I’d need to study the subject a lot more, but a 300 m.p.h. train could compete with air travel, I think. A Boeing 747 cruises at about 550 m.p.h., but travelling by train could be cheaper and more comfortable enough to make up the difference.
You can do more as a passenger on a train than as a pasenger on jet — move around, get easier access to communications, hold a meeting, etc. I’m also assuming that time lost to infrastructure would be less too, as it would be quicker to get a train loaded and in motion than it would a plane.
Of course, there’s always the cow issue.