To get high-speed trains we need new high-speed track
The California model of an independent authority that will build its own electrified high-speed rail track is really instructive.
We will never get high-speed rail (of more than 200 miles per hour) using the freight rail network. They don't run trains that fast. They never will.
So if we want track that runs trains that fast, we're going to have to build it ourselves.
Amtrak is unlikely to have a corporate strategy that involves putting their resources into building high-speed rail track. They have enough to do with the capital demands of running the Northeast Corridor as well as doubling the current fleet of 1400 cars or so -- not to mention figuring out how to meet the demand of all the states who want to run more trains along freight-owned tracks.
I suspect we're going to want to create a separate high speed rail authority to build electric-powered high-speed rail tracks along particular routes (probably starting with Chicago-New York). These authorities would be responsible for design and engineering work so that when they are ready for the multi-billion investment to build the track, we can find the money. Some of that money would likely come from our energy policy and some from the general revenue fund. Some of the capital should come from the private sector to take advantage of depreciation or to use design-build-operate procedures (that I don't know enough about).
I think creating more authorities to spend resources and focus employee talent on building high-speed rail track and related infrastructure is our next step as advocates.