I just spent a few minutes looking at the Midwest High Speed Rail Association’s web page: http://www.midwesthsr.org/
They (We)’re doing it again. We want the biggest, fastest, coolest technology we can find. That’s how we ended up with our hugely over-designed, over-loaded interstate highway system. Let’s try some short-range thinking.
Huge railroad mergers have happened in recent decades. Companies have, essentially, parallel lines all over the place. For instance, BNSF barely uses the old Southwest Chief route (Chicago-KC-Raton Pass-Albuquerque) any more because they have a more southerly route they’ve put all their money into double-tracking. In fact, New Mexico has already had to take over track rights to prevent abandonment. Suppose — just suppose, the Feds snagged that track from BNSF and started upgrading it in place — not to bullet train standards, but to, say, 110 mph minimum speeds across MO, KS, CO, and NM. Suddenly Amtrak is a lot faster than driving. No, it’s not as fast as an airplane, but, then again, nobody ever flew a train into a skyscraper.