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World's Fastest Trains: Top 5

Updated on January 12, 2017

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, noiseless, 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 on wheel-track mode, and levitation mode.

1. JR - Maglev


The fastest train in the world is a magnetic levitation train. The 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 are some information.

  • Train: JR –Maglev MLX01
  • Operating Country: Japan
  • Motion Type: Magnetic Levitation
  • Test Top Speed: 581 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

2. French TGV


The second 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!

When the JR- Maglev and TGV are at their fastest, a Bugatti Veyron, the fastest commercial car, would have a tough time catching up.

3. Shanghai Maglev


Here is another magnetic levitation train in the top 3 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)

4. CRH 380 AL/BL


When China supposedly has the largest rail network of fastest trains, then there exists a possibility that the fastest trains would also hail from there. The next fastest train in the list is the fastest train in the world in the conventional wheel-track mode. Here are the stats:

  • Train: CRH 380 AL/BL
  • Operating Country: China
  • Motion Type: Conventional wheel-track mode
  • Test Top Speed: 487.3 km/hr
  • Operational Top Speed: 380 km/hr (fastest commercial train in wheel-track mode)
  • Running between: multiple stations

CRH 380 Test Run

5. Shinkansen


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 the 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

This completes our list of the five fastest trains in the world. It would be fun to have a ride in one of them and probably live to tell the story. Japan, France and China would be one of those few countries where a Bugatti owner would be laughed at for driving a car, when one could take a faster train to work!!

Which train was exciting to know about?

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    • Savio Dawson profile image

      Savio Koman 4 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 4 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!