I know I am in the minority of right-leaning people in that generally support the movement to build a greatly expanded high-speed rail service in the United States. Granted, I would like such a system to be built with an eye to keeping costs reasonable and having the lines built be ones people would actually use - in other words I would prefer it wasn't being built the way the Obama administration is doing it - but, I still think it is a worthwhile endeavor.
Conservative critics, however, hate it. Many worry about the cost. (They have a point.) Many are prejudiced because Europeans have high speed rail and everything European is nasty or something. (They need to grow up.) Other simply have lousy arguments. Take this piece on Hot Air. Ed Morrissey
The private sector won’t invest in high-speed rail because there isn’t any reason for consumers to choose fixed-track transport between the proposed stops, San Francisco to Los Angeles. Several airlines already service the route and fly twice as fast between the two cities than the proposed train ride (2 hours, 40 minutes). That means that passengers have a greater selection of outbound and return flights, as well as a number of options on airports, depending on their needs.
I believe this argument is largely wrong and wrong for a very specific reason: Flying sucks.
It may be relatively affordable but the experience itself is unpleasant and time consuming. Most airports are at a distance from major urban areas making them harder to get into or out of; security concerns have in many cases doubled the amount of time one has to spend in the airport waiting around in seemingly endless queues; then there is the joy of being groped by a government employee; the planes themselves are cramped and increasingly devoid of pleasures for the average passenger.
So, I'll say this as a consumer, given a choice between flying from the Twin Cities to Chicago or taking a high speed train, I would choose the train ten times out of ten. Hell, I would actually make the trip to Chicago more often, therefore spending more money on lodging and food in the Windy City. I know I'm not alone in this. I lived in Washington DC for a number of years and it was common for people to take the train up to Baltimore or Philly for the weekend. It was convenient and cheaper than driving and having to stash your car someplace. And that was taking Amtrak. Without the train service many more people would have just stayed home.
I'm perfectly willing to believe the Democrats could screw up the execution of the thing, but that doesn't make the idea unsound.