Chris Lawrence, among others, points out that "government" is not what has screwed up American rail; it's the American government. Yes, this is true, which is why I used the definite article. The American government's infrastructure process is pathological for a number of reasons, chief among them the endless public review process and the log-rolling needed to build a coalition for anything in the fractured US legislature.
But these are features of the American political system that are not, in my estimation, going away. As long as they dominate, it will be very hard to make state-owned rail work in this country. Private efforts seem more--if just barely more--likely to bear fruit. Obviously, I also think that things should be private wherever possible, but I am not denying that state-owned rail works well in other countries; I just don't think that it will ever do so here.