Japan has a train system that far surpasses our own, and I've had the pleasure of using it a great many times(I rode the "bullet train" with Angelica here). Japan is a very small country and the high concentration of people is good for a train system, but the US has areas with similar population density that can really benefit. It sounds like a great public works project to me. The Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration page has some dry governmental things to say about the effort here.
The article points out that Chicago stands to be a big winner in this plan as the hub of the Midwest. That line from St. Louis to Chicago looks dangerously close to Springfield. Let's hope the train bothers to stop for us!
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood: "I think President Obama would like to be known as the high-speed rail president, and I think he can be."