There is an interesting article over at Fast Company about the lack of progress on the speed of train travel in the USA. While there was quite an improvement early on, things haven't changed much in the last 80 years or so while other countries are enjoying the modern speed and connection to the landscape that high speed rail systems offer today's traveler.
The grip of the airline industry over politicians has kept railroads in the USA from upgrading and improving service. In Texas, which Bill Clinton said "God made for high-speed rail," it was the regional airlines that kept the Golden Triangle project from happening almost twenty years ago.
There are also a lot of links in the article to alternative ways of thinking about trains and mass transit including an article on Amtrak's vision for high speed service.