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Suppose there is a specific amount of money available for transport. That money may then be budgeted to local and intercity transport. It would be irrational to do the initial allocation by technology, when both local and intercity transport have to be provided.
If the money available to intercity transport is limited ~ for example, if the Eurozone countries have made a political decision to impose an artificial shortage of money on themselves, even though they have substantial labor and equipment resources available, and HSR would save energy resources relative to alternatives ~ the capital cost for providing a given transport capacity via air, road and rail needs to be examined, as well as the capitalized cost of the operating subsidies required by air, road and conventional passenger rail.
Where HSR provides sufficient full economic benefit to justify its full economic cost, it will typically generate an operating surplus, so that is a capitalized benefit to offset the capital cost of building the line and buying the trains.
By contrast, for local transport, the most beneficial local transport may require substantial operating subsidies. So if there are not unlimited funds for ongoing operating subsidies, then dedicating the intercity capital funding to HSR frees up operating funds to provide operating subsidies to local transport.
Indeed, for areas where common carrier local transport is marginal, a multimodal connection with an HSR station provides an additional traffic anchor that increases farebox recovery ratios and increases the amount of local common carrier transport that can be provided with the same operating subsidy funding.
I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
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