Proponents of fast trains hoped that a successful line in California could spur development elsewhere.
But now even California's plan is in jeopardy. Its ambition has been scaled back and its projected costs have increased.
Even voters have turned on it. A new survey by USC-Dornsife and the Los Angeles Times found that if given a second chance to vote on the 2008 $9 billion bond issue that is funding the early stages of the project, 59% of survey respondents would vote it down.
Part of what's happened here is that high-speed rail, like almost everything promoted by President Barack Obama, has become an intensely partisan issue in America. Republican governors across the country have criticized high-speed projects and rejected federal money to fund rail development. Mr Obama, meanwhile, has redistributed the rejected money to states like California that are run by Democrats and are more receptive to high-speed rail.