I have been wondering why high-speed rail doesn't take off in the U.S. I finally came to the conclusion that high-speed rail is not an upgrade for Americans. The excitement people used to have when trans-continental railroads were built is not here anymore. People got excited 100 years ago because they got to move across country with a new level of comfort, speed, and convenience. People loved trains because the alternative was horse-drawn wagons.
Now if you want to travel long distance with trains in the U.S., it is a downgrade from the alternatives, not upgrade. Airplanes get you to the destination faster and cars make sure you can move around in the destination. Trains don't have the speed and the connection network. That is why the only place in the U.S. that high-speed rail might work right now is in the northeast corridor. That is also why the California experiment might fail. Say, you take a high-speed train from S.F. to L.A. How are you going to move around in L.A.?
But if we keep this upgrade/downgrade idea in mind, the solution might not be too hard to find. A high-speed rail network with better Uber/Lyft connection is what I think of right now. Or maybe the $40-billion plus Uber can build its own high-speed rail? I never underestimate the power of technology.