Interstate High-Speed Rail System construction
The United States has the worst high-speed rail system in the industrialized world; if you define high-speed rail as rail travelling in excess of about 150 miles per hour, than the U.S. actually has no high-speed rail system. Europe, Japan, and now China have much more extensive systems. One could use part or all of the Interstate Highway System to construct an Interstate High-Speed Rail system, or you could put the system next to parts of the Interstate Highway System, as proposed by the US High-Speed Rail Association. However it is put together, a High-Speed Rail System would have to replace most plane routes, since air travel will become less and less practical at shorter distances as the price of oil rises.
According to the US High-Speed Rail Association, a 17,000 mile system would cost about $600 billion to build, over 20 years, for about 30 billion dollars per year.
In addition, the high-speed rail system could probably cover its own costs, if not turn a profit.
The transportation scholar Rod Diridon estimated that high-speed rail construction, including manufacturing, would create 21,000 total jobs for every $1 billion spent , because of all the construction involved. If this was the case, then $30 billion per year would create 600,000 total jobs annually, of which some 90,000 would be in manufacturing.
Yonah Freemark estimates that the service jobs needed to run an American high-speed rail network would be on the order of one million jobs, for operations, maintenance, and serving customers.