This piece from Miller-McCune takes a ride on the AVE in Spain and compares it to the struggling bid in America to create a high speed rail network.
"Unlike in America, no freight trains or conventional passenger trains compete for these tracks, which are fenced-off and raised on concrete ties. With few stops, the electrified AVE trains on Spain's four major routes maintain a 99 percent on-time record, according to RENFE, the state-owned company that operates the trains. RENFE puts its euros where its mouth is by offering passengers on the Madrid-Seville route a total cash refund if the AVE is more than five minutes late. With seats as cheap as $60 roundtrip, the Madrid-Barcelona trains have proven so successful that RENFE says it now has lured away nearly 50 percent of the Iberia Airlines traffic on that popular 375-mile route."