the fastest trains in the world
High-speed rail is a type of rail transport that runs significantly faster than traditional rails. It uses specialized infrastructure like integrated rolling stock and dedicated tracks.
A train is considered high speed based on factors like speed, infrastructure, safety parameters etc. Different fora have defined high-speed trains in different ways. But the common parameter in all of them is the speed.
Minimum Speed Limit for considering a train high speed: A Minimum speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) on track lines specially built for high speed and about 200 km/h (124 mph) on existing lines which have been upgraded to suit the high speed.
Inspite of being able to reach 200kph certain conventional trains are not considered to be high-speed trains owing to factors other than speed as mentiond above. Example French SNCF Intercities, German DB.
Tokaido Shinkansen is the first-ever high-speed train and it began operations in 1964 in Japan. It is widely known as the bullet train.
With this several countries began their endeavours to have high-speed trains of their own. Now 26 countries in the world have high-speed trains in operation and several more are in the queue. These include Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, The Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and Uzbekistan.
High-speed rail cross international borders in Europe.
- Shanghai Maglev, 267.8 mph (431 kmph), China
The Shanghai Maglev also known as the Shanghai Transrapid is the fastest train in the world. Its operating speed is 267.8 mph or 431 kph.
Magnetic levitation is abbreviated as Maglev. The train does not have wheels and moves by the mechanism of suspension or floating in the magnetic field between the train and track.
The monorail operates between Long Yang Road and Pudong international airport which is 18.95-mile (30.5 km ) long. It takes 7 minutes and 20 seconds to complete the journey.
Top speed: 267.8 miles per hour
Acceleration: 0 to 267.8 mph in just 4 minutes
Body specifications: 574 seats
Others: No wheels, Operates by Magnetic Levitation
- Harmony CRH 380A, 236.12 mph, China
China has the longest high speed rail network spreading over 29,000 km (18,000 miles) so far. China has two-thirds world’s high-speed rails.
Their collection of high-speed trains include the Fuxing train series developed by CRRC. The “Blue Dolphin or Red Dolphin” – CR400AF and the “Golden Phoenix” – CR400BF are among the world’s fastest conventional high-speed trains.
Other high speed trains part of this series are CRH2C, CRH3C, CRH380A & AL, CRH380B, BL, CRH380D. All these operate at speeds averaging 220 mph (350 kph).
Top speed: 236.12 miles per hour
Body specifications: Approximately 500 seats, VIP sightseeing section
Others: Fish-head design, Vibration free bogies
- AGV Italo, 223.6 mph, Italy
AVG Italo operates at speed 223.6 mph making it the fastest running train in Europe. It commutes between Rome and Naples.
Top speed: 223.6 miles per hour
Body specifications: Multi units, 11 cars, club, prima and smart classes
Others: Eco-friendly design, Adjustable leather seats
- Talgo 350, 217.4 mph, Spain
Talgo 350 is called pato in Spain owing to its duck beaked nose. It operates at a speed of 217.4 mph. Talgo runs between Madrid and Barcelona.
Top Speed: 217.4 miles per hour
Body specifications: 2 driving cars, 12 passenger cars made into 4 classes – Club, First, Bistro, and Coach class.
- Siemens Velaro E, 217.4 mph, Spain
Siemens Velaro E is also named as AVS 103. Operated in Spain is imported German Technology. AVS 103 flies between Barcelona and Madrid. Its operational speed is 217.4 mph.
Top Speed: 217.4 miles per hour
Body specifications: 8 passenger cars, Approximately 400 seats
- SNCF TGV Series of trains, France
The SNCF railway company operates high-speed train services in France. It includes SNCF TGV Atlantique, SNCF TGV Reseau, SNCF TGV Duplex, Euroduplex, SNCF TGV POS, Eurostar, and Thalys.
The TGV till date holds the world record for the fastest test speed. It reached 574.8 kmph (357.2 mph).
These trains operate at an average speed of 320 kmph (186.4 – 200 mph).
- Eurostar E320, 198.8 mph(320 Kmph), United Kingdom
Eurostar operattes at 320 kmph. It runs between London to Brussels via Paris.
The United Kingdom is now working on High Speed 2 series called HS2 with speeds proposed at 330 kmph (205 mph).
- E5, E6, H5 Series, Shinkansen, 198.8 mph(320 Kmph), Japan
Japan is the father of the high speed trains. E5 series Shinkansen Hayabusa is the fastest high speed rail in Japan. These trains are designed to minimize the sound and vibration while passing through tunnels.
The E5, E6, and H5 series are all capable of maintaining the 320 kmph and have even faster test speeds. Shinkansens hold a grand record of zero risk over the past half a decade.
- AL BORAQ, 198.8 mph(320 Kmph), Morocco
It might surprise us to know that North Africa joined the top 3 club, top 3 fastest commercial trains in the world. The Al Boraq runs between Casablanca and Tangier.
- ICE 3, Class 403, 406, 407, 198.8 mph(320 Kmph), Germany
ICE 3, Class 403, 406, 407 operattes at 320 kmph.
This list is not exhaustive and some of the high speed trains operating in various countries are as follows:
KTX I and KTX Sancheon, 189.5 mph, South Korea
ETR 500 Frecciarossa, 186.4 mph, Italy
THSR 700T, 186.4 mph, Taiwan
AVE Class 100, 102, 103, 112, 186.4 mph, Spain
THALYS TGV, 186.4 mph, Belgium
TALGO 350 SRO, 186.4 mph, Saudi Arabia (runs between Mecca and Madina)
THALYS, ICE, Eurostar, 186.4 mph, Netherlands
TCDD HT80000, 155.3 mph, Turkey
Peregrine Falcon, 155.3 mph, Russia
Pendolino Astoro, 155.3 mph, Switzerland
Vibrant Express, 155.3 mph, Hongkong (It can operate upto 236.1 mph)
Amtrak Acela Express, 150 mph, USA
TALGO 250, 142.9 mph, Uzbekistan
Viaggio Comfort, 142.9 mph, Austria
Alfa Pendular, 136.7 mph, Portugal
Alstom VR Class, SM3, SM6, 136.7 mph, Finland
BM71 Flytoget, NSB Class 73, 130.5 mph, Norway
X2, X3, X50, X52, X54, X55, X74, 127.4 mph, Sweden
Pendolino ED250, 124.3 mph, Poland
Frecciargento class ETR 485, 124.3 mph, Greece
The fastest train in India is the Vande Bharat or ‘Train 18’ with speed of 111 mph and we have a long way to go to join the club of worlds fastest high speed train network.
Constraints in developing high speed trains:
The exhaustive infrastructure requirements.
High costs of operation
Historic disasters, derailments, grade crossings, accidents etc.
Physical laws and the constraints they cause Ex: To double the speed, the curve radius should be quadrupled; if acceleration has to be doubled the braking distance has to be quadrupled.
Stricter laws of each country
With the flooding urban population and increasing pressure on cities all over the world the concept of satellite cities emerged. People live in near by places with lesser cost of living and better resources and commute to their place of work. This led to clogged roads and increased journey times. The governments world wide had to think of rapid mass transit systems and bullet trains are the best alternatives.
The development of safer and fastest commercial passenger trains is a continuous endevour.
Japan is now buckling up to break the record of Shanghai Maglev and the world’s fastest high speed train SC Maglev (Chuo Shinkansen line), with operational speed og upto 500 kph is to be introduced in 2027. It would operate on the Tokyo – Nagoya line.