Everyone touts Europe and Japan as being so awesome for their high-speed rail lines, and America as being backwards for having only one (the Acela line between Boston and D.C., and even it's not the fastest). But aren't there a few practical reasons for why more such lines don't exist here? Namely that the metropolitan areas between which people might prefer to take a train over a plane are just too damn far apart?

Michael Barone, Senior Political Analyst at the Examiner, makes the reasoned argument that there are no other countries the size of ours with high-speed rail lines that travel at Acela-like speeds, and part of the reason why it works so well in a place like France is that the country is so small and the destinations relatively close together to begin with with great public transport at either end.

And as for the proposed high-speed rail lines currently in the works in the U.S., we may need to rethink which are priorities. He argues that not enough people are likely to ride the proposed Orlando-Tampa line that the Obama administration's been talking up. And as for the SF-LA rail proposal, he points out, "High-speed rail is not going to beat planes for travel times, and it seems unlikely that there will be as many choices between different destinations in each metro areas as planes currently provide." Air travel is getting more expensive again, but won't people be willing to pay an extra $30 or $40 to shave an hour off their travel time, especially if they get to fly straight into Burbank instead of having to drive there once they land?