As this article in The Economist points out, passenger railways in the USA generally have a poor reputation – with the possible exception of the Acela Express between Boston and Washington D.C. I have personal experience of Amtrak – having once travelled by train from the capital to Chicago and back. It was slow (taking nearly 24 hours that could be flown in less than three hours), but I have to say you get to see aspects of America that you might never experience if you travel by air or road.
However, it seems that freight transportation by rail in the USA is thriving. In the last 30 years, half a trillion dollars have been invested in the infrastructure and rail is now probably the preferred mode of transport for any freight on journeys that take more than a day. It is four times cheaper than road transportation. However, there are two limitations. First, intermodal transport is needed to get goods to their final destination. And second, it only makes sense to move a full container load of goods, so that inventories may be higher as a result.