Looking at the quarterly city pair air fare analysis by the US. Department of Transportation a picture can be assumed. in the second quarter of 2015, the average daily number of passengers for Chicago to New York was 11,251. Unlike air travel, HSR passes through and exploits other intervening markets.
Chicago to Indianapolis the count is 186, Chicago to Detroit is 1,303, Chicago to Cleveland is 1,368, Chicago to Pittsburgh is 1,065, Chicago to Harrisburg is 234, Chicago to Philadelphia is 2840. The total is 18,247. Add another 5,838 for Chicago to Washington for potential 24,085 daily market.
Begin by looking at Chicago to New York. In and by itself that load factor represents 11,251 daily passengers. Along the route 186 air passengers travel between Chicago and Indianapolis. Chicago Detroit is 1303. Chicago to Cleveland is 1368. Chicago to Pittsburgh is 1065. Chicago to Harrisburg is 234, Chicago Philadelphia is 2840. Chicago to Washington is 5838. That's a daily air fare gross of $5,512,655.00
Looking for other city pairs along Chicago to New York to Washington D.C. travel market reveals additional potential revenue. Indianapolis to Philadelphia has a number of 434 passengers. Indianapolis to New York adds 1006. Indianapolis is another 1125. That represents a total gross air fare of $684,425.00. So on and so as the chart below is followed intervening market areas exist for a High Speed Rail passenger train for Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
The opportunity is a daily $8,549,885.00 or an estimated $3,120,708, 025.00 annual gross. Admittedly this is a ham fisted 365 day multiplier to reach the three billion dollar gross. Yes, a High Speed Railroad from Chicago to the east coast may capture a portion of the air travel. Air travel city pairs is hard data. The potential market to attract motorists is a guess. The number of persons making long distance trips from Chicago to New York is nearly impossible to establish. Average vehicle daily count numbers at points along an Interstate give only vehicle density. The number of tractor trailers and the number of automobiles can be published. Where the origin and the destination for the vehicles on the Interstate might be located cannot be identified. As the volume of motorists far exceeds the number of air travelers the potential market is vast.