If one wants to travel on the earth's surface, one drives. Most people in Los Angeles won't ride the rails even if it were free!
Well I'll bett they never did 200mph on the earth's surface!
Since this is what we are talking about with theses European high-speed trains... Nonthin can beat these trains when it comes to city-to-city travel time on stretches up to 500miles. Especially these days when one has to check-in 2-3 hrs in advance.
I also have to conclude that the Dutch are investing close to 5 billion dollars for 100 miles of high speed rail track. And this new high speed train will connect only a few cities! For the same amount of money [I believe the humoungus DIA took the same level of investment!!], you can build some nice runways and state of the art terminals, allowing you to serve the whole world, not just a couple of cities that happened to be conveniant located at this high-speed rail-track!
As for the environment, this is open for discussion. Apparently, a 75% loaded A321 will use about the same amount of energy per pax as a high speed train on a typical 1000km stretch. The advantage of the train is that it is electrical, meaning one has a "choice" on how to generate the required energy; ie hydro, nuclear, conventional oil/gas/coal etc. [just do not run Emron].
The problem with aircraft is that, although they have become increasingly environmental friendly these days, they still pollute the higher levels of the atmosphere. Which is the very worst place that you want to pollute from a global-warming point of view. And even the water-vapour contrails are told to have a negative effect on global-warming.
Believe or not, here in Europe the environmental issue is becoming increasingly important to the traveling public. Quite some Dutch want to ban short haul [<400miles] flying altogether! This could become a serious problem for air-travel over here.
Immigration officer: "What's the purpose of your visit to the USA?" Spotter: "Shooting airliners with my Canon!"