Sorry, that comparison is inaccurate. Wisconsin's proposed service was an incremental extension of an existing corridor to provide additional connectivity to a line that has been experiencing increased ridership and additional frequencies. But Passenger Rail advocates in Wisconsin failed to make the case for that expanded connectivity and convenience, letting the nay-sayers characterize the project as something for the benefit of Madison rent-seekers, or something.
Restoring 110 mph speeds between Chicago and Watertown and speeding up service over historical timing from Watertown to Madison is a very different proposition from building a new railroad ab initio in a corridor currently being served by one slow cross-country trains and two or three regional trains that get no closer to Los Angeles than to Bakersfield. California's error is in building the first section of their high-speed line alongside the Bakersfield route in relatively open country.
Yes, additional frequencies on the existing regional routes (Amtrak and the city-specific commuter services), making better connections between the Los Angeles and San Diego regional trains, and filling in some of the gaps in the rail network (connect Bakersfield to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo) are likely to be more productive at less cost than a San Francisco to Los Angeles Neubaustrecke that, like its German and Japanese counterparts, will have to be tunnelled through difficult terrain.Or, if you must build a section of railroad, perhaps the place to begin is with a Bakersfield to Glenview line constructed to Shinkansen or Neubaustrecke standards, but commencing operation with conventional diesel trains authorized 125 to 140 mph on the new trackage, and conforming to existing speed restrictions on the existing San Joaquin routing north of Bakersfield and Metrolink trackage into Los Angeles. That is, get passengers used to more frequent and more dependable through trains, then start adding the capacity and upgrading the lines as demand appears. Bear in mind, dear reader, that Japan began with the standard gauge New Tokaido Line when they ran out of capacity on an already busy electrified Cape gauge line. Bear also in mind that the Hiawatha service was, early in the 1980s, three or four trains a day, with consists of two or three coaches.
That California's Department of Transportation currently is adding capacity with neutered Jersey Arrow coaches suggests the potential for incremental improvements, perhaps in fifteen or twenty years leading to a full-on Neubaustrecke linking Los Angeles with San Francisco. Unfortunately, it's probably too late to mothball the San Joaquin Valley construction and commence that connection of Glenview with Bakersfield.