I live in NJ and wonder how 1st and 2nd class train ticket in europe really compare and whether they are worth the cost difference. Traveling from Germany to Italy (9-10 hour trip) versus 2-3 hour trips in Italy -- does that make up some of the difference in comfort, etc.
There is another part of this web site entitles "Railpasses" that contains lots of information that may be helpful to you if you haven't discovered it yet.
No -- it is about the same difference as between business class and first class on the airlines. I find second class more interesting.
The only real difference between 1st and 2nd class is that there are 3 seats across instead of 4. You get more arm and leg room. Thats' it. You'll find that there is plenty of leg and arm room in 2nd class. It's not like the airlines. CLICK HERE and scroll down the see two pictures showing 1st and 2nd class.
When I first went to Europe, my company paid for 1st class tickets. Then I discovered 2nd class. After that I wouldn't ride in 1st class, even with the company paying. It just seemed like such a waste.