One of the problems with our Mass Transit System in the United States is its inability to interconnect with other regional and metro systems. A more cohesive plan is needed and Amtrak is not the answer. We need more passengers, lower costs, and greater economies of scale, which must be based on reality, not petty project politics.
One way to save money is to spend more on building tech capital from these projects and stacking the platform with the highest tech. For example, the use of pilotless trains is an innovation that is being explored. High speed trains have a great advantage over short distances instead of queuing to get on a plane and get off a plane and find a taxi, a shuttle service or pick up a more expensive rental car (supply issues and demand with declining air travel). If you consider the two hours notice they require for check-in and screening, the time to get off the plane and pick up your bags, stand on the curb, drive to the venue or hotel, you can see that a 200 mph train ; has the upper hand over everything. Assume that 3 hours at 200 mph is 600 miles. Travel distances of 700-800 miles would be much better served by a high speed train VS a passenger plane. Even if you could fill a full A380, it would take an hour and a half just to load the plane and disembark. Distances, which are under 150 miles, generally people prefer to drive. So those miles between 150 miles and 800 miles, a bullet train is best.
For those who do not wish to fly for fear of flying, they may want to travel up to 1500 miles or more by bullet train. California’s length on the 5 Freeway is about 1000 miles (try it in a 55mph truck?), similar to the width of Texas. Driving in TX can be hell and make you want to kiss the ground on the first exit ramps in Louisiana or Las Cruses, New Mexico. Travelers have often made these “living hell” comments when traveling from Denver to Kansas City.
The distance between NYC and Florida is about 900 miles (not an especially satisfying drive considering the length of Florida), Salt Lake to San Francisco 600 miles, Denver to Chicago 900 miles, Detroit to DC 700 miles so that can see the benefits. A recurring idea from traveling soccer moms is; piggybacking on flatbed train cars, like a ferry. The high-speed train could traverse the region, and then just drive. Looking into this concept, which seems more than relevant, one could modify the design of TTX Auto Hauler Trailers for high speed trains and put in a couple of portable toilets so you can go outside and use the bathroom.
So you have your car when you get there. Engineerless trains are here and this is one way we can eliminate human error and reduce costs. Maybe with the strong union controls in New Jersey, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Massachusetts, Connecticut. Maryland and DC may not be feasible this decade, but surely for freight trains it could be done. Eventually, these new technologies could be introduced and we can enjoy the economies of scale needed to vastly improve our current flow of transportation. Think about it.