I don't disagree on any particular point in theory. Although I would rather see Amtrak get new trackage, ideally within existing right of way where possible. Otherwise even if the tracks are publicly owned you will still have to find a place to stuff at least current amounts of freight traffic plus expanded passenger service, sou you will be building new trackage anyway. Might as well cut out the middle step. Virginia is doing the opposite of this with the RF&P upgrades, which hopefully will not come back to bite them, but we shall see.
I agree substantially. The key thing in Virginia is that the state is failing to get any ownership. They've built "passenger bypass" tracks around Acca Yard three times so far to my knowledge and they've been stolen for freight use each time, because the state government of Virginia is too dumb to get an ownership interest.
Contrast Massachusetts, which will soon own nearly all the trackage in the state.
But I just don't see that happening. If you're telling me that the political will is there for what would be the largest government of takeover of private assets since probably World War I, I think you're out of your mind.
The political will is accumulating and it will happen -- only in certain states, mind you. I don't think we'll see Wyoming or Georgia buying tracks any time soon. But I think the examples of Massachusetts and California are sufficient to prove that this is happening, one state at a time.
New York is mainly gummed up by the State Senate gerrymandering, which causes the government to be well behind the desires of the population. It'll break loose (on many issues, not just rail) in 2022 if not earlier. I was not hopeful for NY until the long-term lease of the Albany-Poughkeepsie tracks -- that showed that even a recalcitrant government was slowly bending in the necessary direction.
Perhaps in another generation the politics will swing, but by then the system will have likely run itself into the ground and we will be probably a century removed from a credible intercity network.
It's happening at different times in different parts of the country. The politics has already swung in Massachusetts and California, in my opinion, and in Vermont and Maine (though those states really don't have much money). New York and Pennsylvania will follow, along with other states which I haven't identified yet (Colorado?). By the time the trend really gets going in Florida or Louisiana, those states may be underwater, certainly.