The flight from Madrid to Seville in Spain takes about an hour. The high-speed "AVE" train takes 2 1/2 hours. But from the city center to the airport in Madrid takes an hour (IIRC) and you have to be there 90 minutes before your flight, and then wait half an hour for your luggage, and then have a long drive from the airport back to the city center.
As a result, people take the train, which does not require an early arrival, connects the city center to the city center, and when the train stops you step off and go. When I lived there they were planning a high-speed train to connect Madrid and Barcelona, and the airlines were doing everything they could to try to stop it from being built.
Modern trains (unlike the disasters we have in the U.S.) are comfortable, smooth, fast, and typically have an observation car, a bar car, and a dining car. They have a policy on the AVE between Madrid and Seville that if it's five minutes late it's free. I never heard of that happening in the entire year and a half was there. They have a radio program called Renfe Presenta, in which they announce all the trains currently running late at the time of the broadcast. At any given time, with several thousand trains running, there are typically 2 or 3 running late because of some problem with the track.
I think the French and Japanese trains are twice as fast as the Spanish AVE.