Craig Newmark linked to a Harvard economist's contrarian view on using public moneys for high speed trains. It's not about the trains so much as it is about horizontal equity. A sample: “The Bay Area isn’t sufficiently wealthy and productive to pay for its own trains? Why does a Walmart employee in Alabama have to pay for a Google or Apple executive’s train?” Go there, to dip into the political economy of the benefit principle.
For the spikes and fishplates, let's go to Florida and Texas. We will continue to follow the emergence of Florida's Brightline trains, which initially will be deluxe commuter trains, or perhaps comparable to California's Regional Rail service, with some Japanese-style transportation and land development thrown in. It won't be as fast as California's Moonbeam trains, but it will soon be running, and there might be an operating surplus to invest back into the property.
In Texas, a private venture, Texas Central Partners, continues to battle local landowners and the petro-pickup complex to build its own Houston to Dallas high speed line, so far, without any aid from Washington. And unlike California, there's little Regional Rail service to speak of. As I noted previously, this service might have a better chance if power companies and railroad promoters could work together more closely on rights of way.