I have argued in several papers that railways should focus on the needs of today's customers, but not eliminate the qualities that make rail travel comfortable and enjoyable. For example, the ability to have a good meal or enough space to work or relax without leaning on the person sitting next to you (today's air travel model).
Alex Marshall wrote an article called The Comfort Zone for Governing Magazine that covers similar ground. The article suggests that transport is more than just moving people, he says,
For state and local officials, it means resisting the urge to think about transportation as something that can be reduced to wheels and wings. We humans, being soft and fleshy creatures with a handful of senses, have considerations that go beyond how fast and how far and at what price.
While I think there is a lot railways can learn from airlines, low cost airlines in particular, the learning includes both positives and negatives! Imitate some of the operational strategies, but imitate first class food service and amenities!