Matt Yglesias on the manifold benefits of intercity rail:

"(N)ot only is intercity rail energy efficient compared to other means of transportation but it's typically electricity which can be produced with much less pollution per unit of energy output. With automobiles, of course, we're all looking forward to the future of electrification as well. But I've never heard anyone outline a remotely credible low-pollution alternative to jet fuel. Now obviously there are also distances across which rail doesn't work as a credible alternative to air travel. But for shorter distance flights it's important to understand that air travel is currently benefitting from a major unpriced externality in the form of air pollution. If we started taxing greenhouse gas pollution, then rail starts looking like a much better option on a range of short routes that are currently popular for air travel."