In Britain, railways are expensive and slow, and most people catch coaches or fly. Mind you, this is not due to the inherent suckiness of railways as a technology but due to an unsympathetic and ideologically-driven privatisation of the state railway. The Tories in the 1980s hated public transport, seeing it as a form of socialism; Thatcher ran down British Rail, and Major finally privatised it, selling it off to several different companies. Rail fares went up, while the system continued to be dependent on government subsidies to keep the operators from leaving. (For some years, the annual subsidies amounted to three times as much as the entire British Rail budget of the last year of its operation.) Meanwhile, budget carriers like Ryanair and EasyJet have been running cheap flights between British provincial cities, undercutting the railways.
A better model for what railways can achieve would be found on the continent. France's state-run carrier, SNCF, manages to make a profit (its high-speed lines subsidise slower provincial lines), and internal flights in France are all but unknown. In Spain, meanwhile, the AVE high-speed rail system has all but killed the market for internal flights.