Friday, March 1, 2024

10 Fastest High-Speed Trains Around The World

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Summary

  • The Shanghai Maglev train is the fastest high-speed train in the world, operating at a commercial speed of 460 kph.
  • Germany’s DB ICE train reaches speeds of 350 kph and offers comfortable travel with the option to drink German beer onboard.
  • China’s CR Fuxing and CR Harmony trains also operate at 350 kph, providing efficient transportation for up to 500 passengers.

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High-speed trains are an innovative, efficient, and luxurious way to travel. In the United States, the busiest Amtrak routes and America’s coast-to-coast train journeys are favorites; however, the world’s most advanced countries are developing more and more high-speed trains that rival what America’s railways offer.

With such modes of transportation scattered around the globe, locomotive enthusiasts might be scratching their heads, wondering which trains are the fastest. In fact, some trains are so fast that traveling by rail is sometimes an ideal substitute for air travel, a fact even the world’s most punctual airlines may struggle to compete with. Plus, more often than not, trains are better for the environment and offer travelers alternative amenities such as comfortable seating, upscale dining, and affordable pricing.

With innovations coming each year, such as magnetic levitation (Maglev), the rail industry has never been more exciting. That said, high-speed train travel is an industry with ample room for growth. Still, with the current global network of high-speed rails increasing every year, one could say that the locomotive industry is… on the right track. On that note, here are the fastest high-speed trains in the world, according to Railway Technology and information from rail operators themselves, the former an authority news and procurement site in the railway industry.

The speeds of the fastest trains in the world have been sourced from Railway Technology. Other sources of information came from each train’s operating company.

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10 Trenitalia Frecciarossa 1000, Italy

Speed: 186 mph (300 kph)

Trenitalia Frecciarossa high-speed train from Milan to Rome, Italy
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Trenitalia Frecciarossa high-speed train from Milan to Rome, Italy

The 10th fastest train in the world is Italy’s Trenitalia Frecciarossa 1000. Developed by Hitachi Rail Italy and Alstrom, the Frecciarossa operates in Italy and neighboring countries such as France. Skiers on their way to the world’s largest ski slopes, Les Trois Vallees, can get off in Chambéry to reach the majestic mountains of the French Alps.

Nicknamed the Red Arrow, this train travels throughout all of Italy and stops in the “heart of the most important cities,” according to the official website. While the Red Arrow can reach 400 kph, it only travels at 300 kph. Sadly, on February 6, 2020, the train was involved in a high-speed derailment causing the death of two train drivers and injuring 31 people, according to Railway Technology.

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9 Korail KTX-Sancheon, Korea

Speed: 189.5 mph (305 kph)

The Korail South Korean high-speed train KTX-Sancheon at Seoul Railway Station, South Korea
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The Korail South Korean high-speed train KTX-Sancheon at Seoul Railway Station, South Korea

Korea’s national railway operator, Koreail, manages the country’s fastest high-speed train. Commonly known as the KTX, the current KTX-Sancheon is built by Hyundai Rotem, a global industry company specializing in rolling stock (locomotives).

The train is named after the indigenous cherry salmon fish and is Korea’s first high-speed locomotive. The KTX reaches 300 kph in 316 seconds. The bullet train from Seoul to Busan takes just over two and a half hours, essentially slicing the country in half, allowing riders to view the scenic Korean countryside in luxury.

8 Renfe AVE 103, Spain

Speed: 192.5 mph (310 kph)

High-speed AVE train on the Valencia to Barcelona high-speed railway, RENFE SNCF of the Spanish National Rail Network, AVE 103 Spain, Almenara
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High-speed AVE train on the Valencia to Barcelona high-speed railway, RENFE SNCF of the Spanish National Rail Network, AVE 103 Spain, Almenara

The Renfe AVE 103 in Spain is another one of the fastest trains in the world, operated by the Spanish state-run Renfe. Starting in 1992, the first high-speed line was opened, connecting Madrid, Cordoba, and Seville. As time passed, the network expanded into the rest of Spain’s major cities and to other well-known international connections.

This train can hold up to 404 passengers and is known for its affordable pricing. In 2006, the train hit a top speed of 403.7 kph, setting a Spanish record for high-speed trains. It takes just under 3 hours to get from Barcelona to Madrid.

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7 ONCF Al Boraq, Morocco

Speed: 198.8 mph (320 kph)

High speed train ONCF Al-Boraq at Casablanca Casa Voyageurs train station in Casablanca, Morocco 
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High-speed train ONCF Al-Boraq at Casablanca Casa Voyageurs train station in Casablanca, Morocco 

Africa’s first high-speed train runs in Morocco. Operated by the nation’s railway operator, ONCF, the train makes runs between Casablanca and Tangier, and other cities.

The Al Boraq can carry 533 passengers on its bi-level (double-decker) trainsets. This train is over twice the speed of the next fastest train in Africa. Passengers can relax while getting spectacular views of the Moroccan coastline.

6 JR Shinkansen, Japan

Speed: 198.8 mph (320 kph)

The Tokaido Shinkansen series N700 bullet train in Kikugawa-shi, Shizuoka, Japan
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The Tokaido Shinkansen series N700 bullet train in Kikugawa-shi, Shizuoka, Japan

This world-renowned high-speed train has serviced Japanese residents and tourists since the mid-1960s. Over time, the train has undergone many improvements and innovations, and now is one of the world’s fastest locomotives.

Famously featured throughout the movie Bullet Train starring Brad Pitt, the Shinkansen makes trips through the island nation. The Shinkansen goes to and from Tokyo, Osaka, Hakata, Kagoshima, and others.

The famous locomotive allows travelers to experience famous cities and many of Japan’s charming small towns in the countryside in a single sitting. In 2022, the Shinkansen carried 295 million passengers across Japan.

5 SCNCF TGV, France

Speed: 198.8 mph (320 kph)

TGV train, France
Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay

A high speed train of France, TGV

France’s fastest train, the Train à Grande Vitesse, or TGV, distributes passengers far outside the confines of French borderlines. This train takes people to Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.

Passengers can get from one side of the country to another with ease and also go to other European nations. The trip from Brest to Monaco, with a brief stop in Paris, should take about 18 hours. Patrons can drink wine and watch the French countryside pass by.

4 DB ICE, Germany

Speed: 217.5 mph (350 kph)

DB ICE 3 high-speed train of Deutsche Bahn on Geislinger Steige near Amstetten, Germany
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DB ICE 3 high-speed train of Deutsche Bahn on Geislinger Steige near Amstetten, Germany

The ICE 3 is several high-speed electric multiple-unit trains made by Siemens and Bombardier. The train is mainly operated in Germany but makes frequent trips internationally.

While most trains are only allowed to travel at 320 kph, the ICE 3 is authorized to travel at 330 kph from Frankfurt to Cologne to make up for delays. Typically, trains travel with 8 cars, but the ICE 3 can be coupled with another train to double capacity if needed. Sit back, relax, and drink some German beer while getting to the next Bundesliga football match.

3 CR Fuxing, China

Speed: 217.5 mph (350 kph)

CR Fuxing high-speed train at Tianjin railway station in China
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CR Fuxing high-speed train at Tianjin railway station in China

The CR Fuxing is one of China’s fastest-traveling trains to date. Known as the CR series EMU, these trains were developed by the China Railway Corporation. These trains operate at 350 kph but can travel much faster.

The Fuxing models are China’s first high-speed trains manufactured without the help of proprietary or licensed technology from external rolling stock manufacturers. They can hold up to 500 passengers and make frequent stops between Beijing and Shanghai.

2 CR Harmony, China

Speed: 217.5 mph (350 kph)

CR Harmony train arriving from Shanghai Railway Station at Nanchang West station, China
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CR Harmony train arriving from Shanghai Railway Station at Nanchang West station, China

Unlike the CR Fuxing, the Harmony, also known as the Hexie, was built with global rolling stock manufactured technology. This train has been in service since 2011 and continues to work alongside the Fuxing.

Although the Harmony operates at 350 kph, one iteration, CRH380A, can travel up to 486 kph, making it one of the fastest trains around the world. However, there are rumors that the tech used to make the CRH380A was unlicensed Japanese Shinkansen technology​​​​.

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1 Shanghai Maglev, China

Speed: 285.8 mph (460 kph)

Shanghai Maglev train in China
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Shanghai Maglev train in China

The Shanghai Maglev train blows the competition out of the water. Also known as the Shanghai Transrapid, this train operates at a commercial speed of 460 kph. However, this train is not a typical high-speed train; it uses electromagnetic force technology that allows it to travel safely at staggering speeds.

The Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Company operates the train. The Shanghai Maglev can cover a 19-mile distance in only 8 minutes. This is the first commercial maglev train in the world and makes trips between Longyang Road Station and Pudong International Airport. Guinness World Records named it the fastest train in the world and it has stayed that way for over 20 years.

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