Expanding on my comment over here:
This is the reason why contrary to years past – the airlines may be very open to the idea of running the HSR system as a substitute for running the competing planes. At the plane ticket prices they will need to charge + the airport delays driving LA-SF is nearly competitive with flying LAX-SFO.
For medium/short-range “flights” airlines will have the choice of running the trains or relinquishing big portions of their revenue. The airlines will face mounting issues jsut with fuel cost. Keep in mind that aviation fuel by international convention is not taxed. As the realities of Global Warming kick in – this will have to change. Aviation fuel will have to be taxed in proportion to its contribution to Global Warming.
I suspect that passenger travel is going to follow a modal separation model that we see with freight. In freight, short/medium-haul is dominated by trucks. Trucks’ ability to pick-up/deliver closer to the source/destination dominates over the fuel costs. In long-haul/bulk trains have the cost advantage because fuel cost start to dominate.
With passengers, trains/cars should dominate because both have the ability to pick-up/deliver their cargo (passengers) closer to the original source/destination. (City centers or people’s houses).
This leads to an interesting stock picking question: is there an airline/railroad out there that is looking to become an integrated transportation company (i.e. airline + rail + truck)? Considering the difference in the various cultures I suspect that this company will emerge but will be formed from the ground up with the exception of the railroad piece. I make the exception on the railroad people because of the interesting scheduling requirements that come from not being able to reorder trains (limited ability to pass!). But the railroading knowledge could come from the shortlines not the Class Is. Short line railroads have had to think innovative and in customer service intensive ways that the Class I’s have traditionally ignored. Norfolk Southern may be an exception to this.