It can be done
ModeShift has an intriguing post on a proposed regional high-speed rail transit system for the Midwest. Here’s the wow bit:
In essence, for the same cost as building less than 120 miles of new Interstate freeway, the Midwest could design, construct, and operate a 21st Century passenger rail network that would make the region’s transportation system competitive with that of western Europe. Moreover, the feasibility study predicted that the system would generate so much passenger traffic, over 10 million riders a year, that annual revenue by 2014 ($528 million) would exceed the operating and maintenance expense ($453 million).
Old-school public infrastructure investment: the new black!