To be clear, the point of my question is to point out the difference between Europe and the U.S. in governing/policy implementation. The countries of Europe are governed, by in large, by a "centrally controlled national parliament. Local control is almost non-existent. In the U.S., the States are free to make decisions at the local level (State/County/City).
Given the design of the American Governmental System, aside from technology, the way that HSR will be implemented will be more in line with the American Way than a European Way.
Excellent point! My point is that European nations are sized more alike our states. Historically, HSR works very well for a distance around 250 miles and less. Few, if any, HSR trains travel over 300 miles.
USA West coast line and Intercontinental line city pair examples:
Seattle to Portland = 173 miles (OK)
Portland to Eugene = 111 miles (OK)
Eugene to Sacramento = 474 miles (FAIL)
Sacramento to Oakland = 82 miles (OK)
Oakland to San Jose = 41 miles (OK)
San Jose to Los Angeles = 340 miles (FAIL)
Los Angeles to San Diego = 120 miles (OK)
Sacramento to Salt Lake City = 649 miles (FAIL)
Salt Lake City to Denver = 536 miles (FAIL)
Denver to Kansas City = 605 miles (FAIL)
Kansas City to St, Louis = 248 miles (OK)
St. Louis to Chicago = 297 miles (FAIL)
Chicago to Cleveland = 345 miles (FAIL)
Cleveland to Pittsburgh = 132 miles (OK)
Pittsburgh to Philadelphia = 304 miles (FAIL)
Philadelphia to New York City = 97 miles (OK)
New York City to Boston = 214 miles (OK)
Let's look at cities in every direction from Dallas
Dallas to Houston = 239 miles (OK)
Dallas to Shreveport = 190 miles (OK)
Dallas to Little Rock = 319 miles (FAIL)
Dallas to Tulsa = 257 miles (FAIL)
Dallas to Oklahoma City = 205 miles (OK)
Dallas to Amarillo = 360 miles (FAIL)
Dallas to Lubbock = 323 miles (FAIL)
Dallas to El Paso = 631 miles (FAIL)
Dallas to Austin = 190 miles (OK)
Dallas to San Antonio = 275 miles (FAIL)
Dallas to Victoria = 297 miles (FAIL)
Just wanted to point out that lines stretching across the country, north to south and east to west, have difficulties stringing large city-pairs together. America should look at HSR much like Japanese and Europeans have, connecting city-pairs 250 miles apart or less. More akin to a regional train than a cross country intercontinental train.
But there is another factor that must also be added in to the equation: How much demand is there going to be between the two cities? Without enough demand, if such a line manages to get built in the first place, the overall net economic impact it would have would be negative, not positive.
And to determine demand, we must first define what it is - i.e., the target customers whose patronage is critical to its success.
I would maintain that the target customers of such an endeavor in most regions of the United States is different than it is in Europe.
The primary target customer in this part of the country for the sort of regional high speed rail you have described would be business people whose time has a high dollar value - people for whom time spent in transit imposes a high cost in terms of lost productivity. These are mostly people who would want to travel to the other city and back within the same day.
I would guess that there are a great many such people who are required to travel between Houston and Dallas on a regular basis. But how many such people need to travel between Dallas and Shreveport? I am sure there are some - but is it enough to justify the considerable expense of building and operating such a line? Shreveport is just not that economically vibrant when compared to cities such as Dallas and Houston.
Of course, there will be users beyond business people. The problem, however, is that such a line does not have the same competitive advantage verses other modes of getting there that it does for high end business travel.
The other critical difference between Europe and the United States is, when people step off a train in most parts of Europe, they are immediately able to get wherever they want to go without the need to rent a car. There are many places in Europe where people get around and live their entire lives without owning a car. That is not the case with the exception of a very small number of USA cities - none of them anywhere close to this part of the country.
Step off a train station in Houston or Dallas, unless your destination just so happens to be near the station or on transit line connecting to the station, you are going to need to rent a car unless someone is picking you up or you are willing to pay for a taxi. For someone whose time is worth a lot of money, paying for a cab or for the cost of someone on the other end to make a pick up is not a big deal. But for most leisure travelers and even many business travelers that is not a practical option.
In this part of the country high speed rail would have two primary competitors: airlines with frequent regional flights such as Southwest and simply getting into one's own car and making the trip. The primary advantage high speed rail has is speed plus the fact that one does not have to personally contend with the task and stress of driving.
But keep in mind that the time advantage of high speed rail or air travel can be significantly undercut by the commute time one has to make getting to the train station or airport. If you are having to fight rush hour traffic to get to the station and go though the hassle of parking your car plus any hassles you might have on the other end of renting a car or waiting for someone to pick you up - you might end up eating up a significant portion of the time saved verses simply getting on the Interstate and making the drive.
Plus I am not convinced that, in the end, high speed rail will save all that much time over commuter flights. The big time hassle in flying is finding parking plus all of the security protocols. But there will be similar parking hassles if lots of people use the train. And if lots of people are using high speed rail - such a train is actually a higher security risk in terms of ease of launching a terrorist attack than is an airplane. If there are attacks on trains, one can almost certainly expect similar delays at train stations as we currently have at airports.
On top of all of that, even under the best of circumstances, if you are catching a train or a plane you are going to want to leave and be there early just in case something comes up along the way - otherwise you risk an even greater loss of time having to wait for the next departure. That also eats into the time savings of simply making the drive yourself.
And all I have mentioned so far is the comparative advantages for those who don't consider fare price to be the major factor. But for those who do, it is hard to imagine that the airlines will just roll over and let a train take away market share. You can count on Southwest and other airlines to aggressively compete on price. And, in terms of absolute price advantage, if one owns a car, the cost of driving to and from Dallas and Houston is something under two tanks of gas plus mileage depreciation if one plans on eventually selling the car. That is almost always going to be more cost effective than the combined price of a plane/train ticket plus rental car on the other end. And, if mileage depreciation on your vehicle is high, the cheapest way would be to just rent a car here and drive down as most rentals these days have unlimited miles.
The only way that high speed rail can compete and attract customers verses other forms of transportation is some combination of time savings, price and convenience.
I have a difficult time seeing how high speed rail can be competitive enough in this part of the country verses air and car to make the cost of construction and ongoing operations an economic positive rather than an economic sinkhole - either for a private endeavor risking its own capital or through the use of compulsion to force the rest of us to pay for it. But, certainly, if there is a chance for it to be viable here, I think Dallas and Houston would certainly be the most logical route.
Europe is an entirely different story. There one has major centers of population, industry, commerce and government within a relatively close geographical proximity. Plus, in Europe, because one is able to get around most cities from the moment one steps out of the train station, unlike here, train travel is practical for large numbers of people. And, because many Europeans do not own cars, they do not even have the option of making the drive themselves. Being able to appeal to a larger portion of the population provides critical mass necessary to spread costs across a wider user base - and thus makes high speed rail economical.
We have the potential for something like that here in the Boston to DC corridor. But where else? I can't think of any other examples The large commercial and population centers in Texas definitely give us the geographical proximity portion of the equation. But, for the vast majority of travelers, getting around once one arrives without an automobile on the other end ranges from impractical to impossible. If I have a business meeting in booming northern areas of Houston such as Spring or The Woodlands, does it make sense for me to fight traffic to get to and park at the train station in Dallas and then obtain a car and fight traffic to commute from the train station in Houston to where my meeting is - and, afterwards, fight Houston traffic in the other direction to get back to the station? At least by driving, you can leave directly from your home or office and arrive directly at your destination without any stops other than perhaps a gas/snack/potty break.
This is a subject I would prefer to be wrong on. I personally hate flying - so a high speed rail option is something I would appreciate. Heck, I would even appreciate plain old AMTRAK if it's timetables weren't such a joke. In the end, however, one has to deal with reality - and I suspect that, when all the facts of reality have their say, high speed rail in this part of the country will end up being mostly wishful thinking or, if it ends up being built, will result in the net destruction rather than net creation of economic value.