They are fast. Super fast. They are futuristic, comfortable and safe. Super safe. The world’s fastest trains, be it magnetic levitation or conventional line, can easily rival their air competitors. They might not be as fast as planes, but they are so much more reliable, punctual, safer and greener.
See which countries can boasts the fastest trains in the world.
5. AVE. Spain.
300 km/h (186 mph)
AVE, meaning Spanish High Speed (Alta Velocidad Española), or simply “bird”, runs at speeds of up to 300 km/h (186 mph). The trains are operated by RENFE, the Spanish state railway company, but there is also the private operator Alvia, whose trains run at a maximum speed of 250 km/h (155 mph).
The Ave system has absolutely nothing in common with the Spanish relaxed attitude toward time. On the route between Madrid and Seville, RENFE assures an arrival within five minutes of the advertised time, offering a refund if the train is delayed further. However, to date only 0.16% of trains have been delayed more than a few minutes. So not Spanish!
4. CRH. China.
350 km/h (217 mph), top speed 394.3 km/h (245 mph)
China Railway High-Speed, the Chinese rail system, operates a number of bullet train models such as CRH1, CRH2, CRH3, CRH4 and CHR5. The fastest type is CRH3, based on Siemens Velaro technology, designed to run at the speed of 350 km/h (though in 2008, a CRH3 reached a top speed of 394.3 km/h (245 mph) during a test carried out on the line between Beijing and Tianjin).
Another fast model among the Chinese high speed trains is CRH2, produced by the Japanese Kawasaki Heavy Industries. In October 2009 the Ministry of Railways announced that it planned to invest 1.2 trillion yuan ($175.44 billion) to develop and extend the railway system in China. The aim is to have 13,000 km of passenger lines by 2012. A new contract for 140 new 350km/h capable high speed trains has also been signed between the Ministry and Nanche Sifang Locomotive through a technology licensing agreement with Kawasaki Heavy Industries.
3. Shanghai Maglev Train. China.
250 km/h (160 mph), top speed 431 km/h (268 mph)
The high speed monorail train called Transrapid is a German invention that uses magnetic levitation. Currently, the only commercial implementation of the system is in Shanghai, China. The train runs the distance of 30 km from the airport in 7 minutes 20 seconds, at the average speed of 250 km/h (160 mph) and the top speed of 431 km/h (268 mph).
In 2003, during a trial run, a Maglev vehicle achieved a Chinese record speed of 501 km/h (311 mph).
The Transrapid trains have not yet been implemented on long-distance intercity lines.
320 km/h (199 mph) top speed 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph).
TGV is a flagship product of France, almost as iconic as the Eiffel Tower and baguettes. The high-speed train service was developed during the 1970s and opened to the public in 1981. At present it reaches 150 destinations in France and several foreign cities located in Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Italy and Switzerland.
Among the fastest TGV trains are TGV Réseau and TGV Duplex- their top speed is 320 km/h (199 mph). The trains hold the world’s highest average speed for a regular passenger service.
In 2007 SNCF, the TGV operator, and Alstom, the TGV builder, carried out a series of high speed trials. The official speed record attempt took place on 3 April 2007, when TGV reached the top speed of 574.8 km/h (159.6 m/s, 357.2 mph). It is the fastest conventional train that uses powered metal wheels riding on metal rails.
1. Shinkansen. Japan.
300 km/h (186 mph), top speed 581 km/h (361 mph)
The Japanese knack for technology is manifested in the high speed railway system that covers the entire country. The Japanese Shinkansen, also called a bullet train, is super fast, super safe (40 years of operating without a single major accident) and super comfortable – it runs at least six times per hour between Tokyo and Osaka, and the average arrival time is within six seconds of the scheduled time.
In 2003, the three-car train JR-Maglev achieved 581 km/h (361 mph) on a magnetic-levitation track, wining the title of the fastest non-conventional train in the world. On average, bullet trains are capable of running at a speed of 300 km/h (186 mph), but Japan has already commenced works on constructing a new Shinkansen that could achieve a speed of 360 km/h (224 mph). The new train, named E5 series, will start operating in 2012 and will run between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori stations, 54 minutes faster than the previous model.
If only more countries could have such an ambitious rail system.