For commuting to the cities, the rail seems to play its game significantly better. The daily traffic congestion and limited parking seems to be the ultimate condition that causes a change in travel behavior by modal shift to rail. This is the case of many big cities such Paris, London or Milan and many others. Despite that most European cities have intricate public transport systems that allow people to easily move from one point to another, many still drive their car to work or to move around. The big problem the authorities will have to resolve is that of traffic management and the role of the private car in large urban centres. An environmental organization said in 2011 that much of the congestion in Brussels were not caused by commuters but by citizens themselves.  
If the rail to major urban centers records annual increases of 3 to 5%, situation is dramatically different in rural living environments, even if they are partially urbanized. Fewer people go every day to the local market because they are not at home because they work. It is the social reality of today. Consequently, most services and shops are concentrated in the nearest city, which causes using of car. As people does not move at the same time, there is no sufficient people to fill a full train. To avoid waste and empty trains, rail services declined to finally disappear completely. 

While many people criticize this state of things, they paradoxically produce a reverse style of life to their own critics ! In our modern world, nobody can no more do without of free choice. The only village shop has been replaced by several supermarkets in the nearest city. A vast majority of people do not hesitate to drive 100 km to get to IKEA, because the local carpenter is too expensive or no longer exists. The best rail services could not be to reverse this situation. 
Apocalyptic scenario ? Not really if today we take into account real socio-economic parameters. The industry and people will never fit the rail, this is the rail which will to fit to his environnement. Many actions are taken to reverse the situation and it seems that this is starting to show results.
Shopping centers located in the suburbs and the choice of residential location make the use of car inevitable for many people.
During the years after World War II railways had become slow-moving public administrations, now requiring extensive structural change
The IKEA model of shopping
Inadequate structures and political wrong way
Of course, IKEA is not the creator of the shopping designed for the car, but this chain of stores remains the emblem of the american concept shopping & car. Shopping centers are however not a essential factor of the decline of railways but one element clearly designed to avoid public transports. 
Shopping centers have today medium or large size supermarkets and many other services, and the concept was largely widespread all over the World. The idea is to find all that you need in one place. The quantities purchased are such that this makes it impossible the use of railways or public transports. By addition with the choice of residential location, it makes the use of car inevitable for many people. 
The constraints of size makes impossible or rare the location of shopping centers near main railways station, but there exist more and more examples where whole streets become themselves big shopping centers. To take the train supposes to come back at home with little quantities which is incompatible with the concept in shopping centers located in the suburbs or new neighbourhoods.  
A report from june 2011 of World Bank pointed out that during the years after World War II railways had become slow-moving public administrations, now requiring extensive structural change. In most cases change had been slow, due in part to confusion about which functions should be managed by the state and which by the railways, and in part to the persistent political delusion that investment alone would resolve all the problems.

At the same time, many railways remained bottlenecks to development and a drain on government finances. Political considerations about the worsening of the public deficits also forced the railways - by reducing subsidies - to get rid of much of their rural network. 

And other things....
As for travel behavior, the slowness of public transports gives a sense of waste time. This is especially the case of transport by bus or public transport in the city, where there is a stop every 500m. The advent of smartphones and tablets, however, decreased the sense of loss of time, especially for those who take the train or subway.