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World's Fastest Trains: Top 5

Updated on May 15, 2018
Savio Dawson profile image

Savio is a resident of Mumbai, India. Cars, bikes, and everything fast is his passion, and he writes about them on numerous reputable sites.

Fastest Trains - An Introduction

Be it the steam locomotive, diesel or electric trains the fun of seeing a train pass-by is most certainly unparalleled. Trains have changed a lot since they were first conceptualized, and today’s trains are not only pretty looking, aerodynamic, silent, comfortable but also fast; extremely fast! Here’s a look at the fastest trains in the world as of today. We will be looking at both, the trains running in wheel-track mode, and levitation mode.

1. Hyperloop | United States

Source

This is a concept envisaged by the serial entrepreneur Elon Musk and seeing the light of day in the form of Dubai Hyperloop. The world has already seen magnetic levitation trains and conventional track-wheel trains, but the Hyperloop utilizes one of these concepts with the aspect of running it in vacuum tubes to avoid air resistance and drag. In that sense Elon Musk calls it the third possible version of train travel and totally new mode of transportation. People may disagree with that, but it is indeed revolutionary considering the fact that the train may hit 1200 kmph; that’s like twice the speed of the second train in the list, the JR Maglev. How’s that for speed?

  • Train: Hyperloop
  • Operating Country: Concept from America. First reality may be in Dubai
  • Motion Type: Magnetic Levitation in Vacuum Tubes
  • Test Top Speed: 1200 km/hr [Expected speed in the absence of air drag]
  • Operational Top Speed: To be decided
  • Running between: Dubai and Abu Dhabi (At least the first concept)

To Elon Musk’s credit, he did not plan to patent the concept but left it open for other entrepreneurs to take the concept and move forward. That’s how Richard Branson of Virgin group is now working on the Dubai Hyperloop. What is amazing is that this concept was introduced few years back and will meet reality in a couple of years’ time. If there was ever an award for the fastest conception to implementation plan, the Hyperloop may win that too.

2. JR - Maglev | Japan

Source

The next fastest train in the world is a magnetic levitation train. Magnetic levitation trains are basically levitated on a track by magnetic fields and move forth without touching the track. Since the motion is frictionless the trains can theoretically achieve limitless speed. The JR–Maglev currently holds the record for the fastest train in the world. Here is some information about the speed demon:

  • Train: JR-Maglev MLX01
  • Operating Country: Japan
  • Motion Type: Magnetic Levitation
  • Test Top Speed: 603 km/hr (fastest in test Condition)
  • Operational Top Speed: 500 km/hr (expected to run by 2027)
  • Running between: Tokyo and Nagoya (expected)

Japanese Maglev Train - Test Run

By the way, the train was already holding the speed record at 581 kmph during its first test run. However, few month's back it broke its own record to raise the bar to 603 kmph. Seeing the Hyperloop ready for implementation, you would wonder why a concept like levitation, which has been around for a while, take Japan another good number of years to implement; or maybe it's just me thinking that way.

3. TGV | France

Source

The next position goes to the French - Train a Grande Vitesse (TGV). This train was developed by Alsthom (now Alstom) and SNCF in the seventies. It was always designated and made to be fast and the record for the fastest train on wheels was broken and continues to be held by the TGV.

  • Train: TGV
  • Operating Country: France
  • Motion Type: Conventional wheel-track mode
  • Test Top Speed: 574.8 km/hr
  • Operational Top Speed: 320 km/hr
  • Running between: connecting major cities around Paris and neighbouring countries also

French TGV - Interesting Run!

Fun Fact: When the JR-Maglev and TGV are at their fastest, a Koenigsegg Agera RS, the fastest commercial car at 446 kmph, would have a tough time keeping up.

4. Shanghai Maglev | China

Source

Here is another magnetic levitation train on the list and by the looks of it, this could very well be the mode of transport of the future. China has one of the largest high speed rail network in the world and Shanghai Maglev is the fastest of them all. It was the first commercial magnetic levitation train being commissioned by any country, of course, after the closing of Birmingham Maglev and Berlin M-Bahn. Here are the stats:

  • Train: Shanghai Maglev Train
  • Operating Country: China
  • Motion Type: Magnetic Levitation
  • Test Top Speed: 501 km/hr
  • Operational Top Speed: 431 km/hr (fastest commercial speed in the world for any train types)
  • Running between: Pudong International Airport (Shanghai) to Longyang Road (Pudong)

Shanghai Maglev - Passenger Video (A little shaky)

5. Fuxing Bullet Train (succeeding CRH 380 AL/BL) | China

When China has the largest rail network of fastest trains, then there exists a possibility that the fastest trains would also hail from there. And that assumption is true. The next fastest train in the list is the Fuxing Bullet Train which operates at 350 kmph. This train runs faster than its predecessor the CRH 380 AL/BL. Just to make it clear this is the fastest operational train in wheel-track mode. Here are the stats:

  • Train: Fuxing Bullet Train
  • Operating Country: China
  • Motion Type: Conventional wheel-track mode
  • Test Top Speed: 487.3 km/hr
  • Operational Top Speed: 350 km/hr (fastest commercial train in wheel-track mode)
  • Running between: multiple stations (started with Shanghai - Beijing)

Interesting to know: China has the fastest operational trains in both known modes - levitation and wheel-track mode. When I say operational, I mean it is in service as of now. That is some mean achievement!!

Fuxing - New Age Bullet Train

6. Shinkansen | Japan

Source

Shinkansen literally means new trunk line, referring to the tracks in Japanese but more widely referring to the tons of metal moving on it, the Bullet Trains. Japan was the first country in the world to have high-speed rail lines and introduced the now famous Bullet Trains. They were also the reason that France set up its research and development of high-speed trains in the 1970s. Here are the stats of one of the oldest and fastest trains.

  • Train: Bullet Train (various models)
  • Operating Country: Japan
  • Motion Type: Conventional wheel-track mode
  • Test Top Speed: 443 km/hr
  • Operational Top Speed: 320 km/hr
  • Running between: multiple stations

Last Say

This completes our list of the five fastest trains in the world. It would be fun to have a ride in any one of them and then share the exciting experience. Japan, France, and China would be one of those few countries where a Bugatti or Koenigsegg owner would be laughed at for driving a car - I mean who would want a car when they could just breeze around in a train!!

Which train was exciting to know about?

See results

© 2013 Savio Koman

Comments

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    • Savio Dawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Savio Koman 

      8 months ago from Mumbai, India

      Hey Bradmaster,

      Thanks for stopping by! Although the article is four years old, I keep updating it. This is the fastest listing and hence may not feature many trains. In fact, no Indian trains either :( ... But I have read much about all these trains that you mention in America. The reason that there may not be so many of these high-speed trains is that Americans prefer their own car or a flight for travel than a train. Of course, I am talking from my limited knowledge. You would know better.

      You missed Elon Musk, the American who has given the world the idea of a train traveling at the speed of sound. The Hyperloop is now initiated in Dubai and later in India as well (if all goes well). Once the Hyperloop is ready, it will be traveling at 1200 kmph, twice as fast as the fastest train on this list. How cool is that?

      You never know, it may come to America too. :)

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad Masters 

      8 months ago from Orange County California BSIT BSL JD

      It would have been interesting to contrast the high speed trains you mentioned in this article with the High Speed Acela in the US, and the development of the high speed trains in CA, Texas and Florida and how far behind them we in the US are today.

      I realize that your article is 4 years old, but these US trains in development had been talked about for so many years.

      Great article. Thanks

    • Savio Dawson profile imageAUTHOR

      Savio Koman 

      5 years ago from Mumbai, India

      Hi Rondmrn,

      These trains are really fast and in fact, many of them break the barriers of what we currently call as fast. Most of these trains were built to create a fast public transportation corridor. U.S. has its own beautiful road network and hence may not find the need for the fastest trains. But whenever U.S. does plan to introduce ultra-fast trains, be sure to find it featured here.

      I am glad you enjoyed the hub. Thanks!

    • rondmrn profile image

      Ron Mariano 

      5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Wow, this makes me want to ride these trains. I've always fancied public transportation at highly urban areas and long travel. I can't believe trains can go this fast! I'd like to see one of these things in the U.S. but not on this government budget. Maybe in the future :)

      Great article! Voting up!

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