You lucky guy....I am still driving my minivan!!
I think your theory has some merit. I suspect rail travel is somewhat akin to today's airline travel, where the destination is the primary objective. I qualify that by observing that most rail travel at least promoted the scenery you would experience along the way. I doubt any airline promotes the view from 30,000 feet!
My take is from a survey of one, me. I blame a combination of factors for diminishing the fun of the trip. We travel now much more by air, when on the road we take the interstates, and we are barraged with destination advertising.
The airplane removes us from all but the destination. The “trip” part is in an airport and stuffed in a tight seat. Or waiting. There is no trip.
The interstates physically and emotionally remove us from the intimacy of the countryside and the people. The trip is experienced at 70 miles an hour, at rest stops, and perhaps at cookie cutter accommodations and restaurants. And you can't enjoy the scenery through the undercarriage of an 18 wheeler.
I recall reading about the design of I-90 which passes the beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho. It was promoted in part because it offed sweeping views of the magnificent scenery. Drive it today. There is a high cement wall that limits all but your view of the sky, built perhaps because some drivers looked at the lake, and died for their interest. Interstates are built for trucking, and for getting you quickly by car to your destination, if you don't fly.
A few years ago I drove from Miami to Olympia, all on two lane roads, or more accurately taking no interstate. There was one 13 mile exception where I was forced onto the interstate and the immediate feeling of being detached and isolated from the country side was almost shocking.
And I believe that we have commercialized travel so that it is all about the money. Of course money and tourism go hand in hand, but the scale of our commercial attractions and the advertising that supports them completely overshadows anything along the way on a trip.
Finally, a road trip is an experience, something that introduces you to the countryside, the people, the characteristics of an area. To do that requires interpersonal contacts with locals and fellow travelers. But we are now afraid of strangers, so we avoid eye contact and interaction, which undermines the value of a travel experience, and favors an airport experience with armed guards and body scanners.
Every morning at the “complimentary” “free” breakfast in our cookie cutter accommodation, scores of travelers sit down side by side with complete strangers.......and remain so. That was not true 50 years ago, when travelers exchanged stories of their home towns, and what they had seen on their trip. On the bright side, I have found if I make the effort I can usually overcome the barriers, but I am always the one who has to initiate the effort.
These are just my personal observations, so I claim no expertise.....except I choose our heritage roads whenever I want a travel experience....a journey.