I've taken the train from Seattle to Wolf Point. 24 hour trip, that ended up being 48 hours. The train broke down in Spokane, ran out of food and drink, and the help disappeared when the going got tough. Oh ya. The toilets also froze up. I had to open a window in the cargo hold, and pee out the window on a speeding train. Absolutely not kidding! I know this trip was the exception, not the rule. But even being nearly 24 hours late, we stopped every 35 minutes to let a coal or cargo train speed by. The coal and cargo trains will always rule the rails in Montana. If you have nowhere to be, ever, train travel across Montana might be for you. I'd also recommend the sleeping car. The seats do recline some, but you still have to hope that the strangers sitting next to you will party quietly if you expect to get some rest. Not likely from my experience.
I highly doubt that in this economic climate, train travel will return to the southern route. I see no way it can come remotely close to paying it's way. And even if paying their own way is just a pipe dream, it still has to be sold that way. A dedicated line is not gonna happen. The coal and cargo carriers will scream bloody murder if monies are spent on improving rail service that doesn't improve their travel time. But our government has supported many ideas dumber than this, so maybe it has a shot.
I do understand that most train trips are not nearly as bad as mine was, but that experience was bad enough to last me several lifetimes.