Let us first examine the map, so we know what we’re talking about:
See that, Houston to Chicago, a straight shot north across the United States.
Here’s Amtrak’s proposal:
Step 1: take the Sunset Limited train from Houston to Los Angeles.
Step 2: take the Coastal Starlight from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon.
Step 3: take the Empire Builder from Portland to Chicago.
In all, it takes you 117 hours (5 days) and you take a real scenic route through two thirds of the US. So what are you waiting for?!
Note: In Amtrak’s defense, that was their second suggestion.