12 Fastest Trains In The World | 2019 Edition

When it comes to high-speed trains, China Railway is in a class by itself. According to the Railway Gazette International, China has outstripped all its competitors with the fastest trains attaining start-to-stop averages well over 180 mph (300 km/h).

Usually, a high-speed rail is defined as one that operates at speeds more than 124 mph (200 km/h). It comprises of multi-powered elements and requires a high level of service.

The first high-speed rail system — known as the bullet train — was developed in Japan in 1964. Since then many countries have developed high-speed trains to connect major cities. By the end of 2018, China had 18,000 miles (29,000 km) of high-speed rail network, accounting for 2/3 of the world’s total.

Below is the list of some of the fastest trains in the world that are operated commercially. More than half of the list is filled with trains operated by China Railway Corporation. Not only does China have all the fastest trains, but it is also constantly adding more.

12. Velaro RUS

Fastest train - Velaro RUSVelaro Rus traveling from Moscow to Saint Petersburg

Top Speed: 217 mph (350 km/h)
Country: Russia

Operator: Russian Railways
Operating since: 2009

The Valero RUS is a Russian gauge high speed electric express train, developed by German-based company Siemens. It can accommodate up to 600 passengers in a 10-car configuration.

In 2006, Russian Railways ordered 8 Velaro RUS trains plus a 30-year service contract for €600 million. In 2011, they ordered an additional 8 sets to increase the services on existing lines and expand it to other areas as well.

11. Talgo 350

Talgo 350 

Top Speed: 217 mph (350 km/h)
Country: Saudi Arabia

Operator: Saudi Railway Organization
Operating since: 2018

The Talgo 350 is designed to be optimally aerodynamic to handle air currents and pressure at high speeds. It runs on 4,000kW power lines and standard gauge tracks.

The car body can comfortably pass through crossings and tunnels. They are coupled with anti-vertical and anti-overturning hunting technologies. They are also equipped with Talgo Pendular type suspension and independent axles so that the wheels remain always in parallel with the track, even in curved stretches.

The train includes several passenger-friendly features, for example, seats have a comfortable reclining angle, footrest with an option to rotate seats and adjust air conditioning system. Tables, power outlets, and reading lamps are also provided for enhancing passengers’ experience.

10. CRH2C and CRH3C

CRH380A HexieCRH3 in Changsha South Railway Station

Top Speed: 217 mph (350 km/h)
Country: China

Operator: China Railway Corporation
Operating since: 2008

The CRH2 series is a power-distributed, AC-driven electric multiple-unit train that uses an aluminum alloy hollow profile body. It is based on the Japanese Shinkansen’s  E2 series. In 2007, CRH2A won the first prize of National Railway Science and Technology Award, while its bogie technology won the first prize of National Science and Technology Progress.

The CRH3 train, on the other hand, is the Siemens Velaro platform derived from the German railway ICE-3 train. The CRH3C electric multiple-unit is power decentralized train that consists of four trailer cars and four motor cars, equipped with two driving units.

Both trains feature a rigid body that lowers the noise and vibration, optimized car window for better airtightness and strength, and enhanced pressure protection system to avoid pressure fluctuation in the compartment.

9. AVE

AVEAVE Class 102

Top Speed: 217 mph (350 km/h)
Country: Spain

Operator: Renfe
Operating since: 2005

AVE (short for Alta Velocidad Española) is a service for high-speed rail operated by the Spanish national railway company, Renfe. The word ‘Alta Velocidad Española’ translates to ‘Spanish high speed’, and its short form ‘AVE’ means ‘bird’.

AVE trains — especially Class 102, 103, and 105 — are designed to run at speed of 193 mph (310 km/h), though they are capable of achieving much higher speeds. As of 2017, the AVE system is the longest high-speed rail network in Europe with 2,013 miles (3,240 km), and the 2nd longest in the world after mainland China.

Its new variant —  Class 105 — is a non-articulated electric multiple-unit with distributed traction. The complete bodyshell is made of aluminum and each car has one powered bogie, with electric motors on both wheelsets. The 8-car configuration can generate a total power of 10,560 kW (14,160 hp).

8. Shinkansen E5 and H5 Series

Shinkansen E5Shinkansen E5 Series on a Hayabusa service

Top Speed: 224 mph (360 km/h)
Country: Japan

Operator: JR East and JR Hokkaido
Operating since: 2011 and 2016

Both E5 and H5 series Shinkansen are Japanese high-speed trains that feature electric active suspensions.

The new generation E5 series trains are designed to be faster and more comfortable than ever before. It has a long nose that extends to 15 meters to the front, a state-of-art braking system that reduces the stop distance, even at high speeds.

The H5 series features a range of cold-weather improvements, including durable rubber to protect the connections between cars, improved snowplow on the lead units, and a stainless-steel underframe to protect the electronics.

Both trains have an identical maximum operating speed and share the same design. However, the E5 series can be differentiated from the H5 by the color of its bodyside stripe: E5 has a pink stripe while H5 has a lavender bodyside stripe. Another difference is E5 uses normal halogen headlamps (has whitish glow) while H5 series uses LED headlamps (has a yellowish glow).

Japan has also started testing its fastest-ever bullet train, which is capable of reaching 249 mph (400 km/h). However, it is not expected to enter operation before 2025.

7. AGV 575

AGV 575

Top Speed: 224 mph (360 km/h)
Country: Italy

Operator: Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori
Operating since: 2012

The AGV 575 (Automotrice Grande Vitesse) is a standard gauge, high-speed electric multiple-unit train manufactured by Alstom. It features large interior compartments, an HVAC system, and facilities such as live television and onboard internet.

The train combines articulated carriage architecture with synchronous permanent magnet motors and a distributed traction system. It uses aluminum alloys that reduce the overall weight of the vehicle by 1,500 pounds compared to using steel.

While the nose of the train is fitted with a kinetic energy absorption unit to provide collision protection, its rigid body and the semi-rigid link between cars offer extra safety in event of collision or derailment.

6. Bombardier Zefiro 380

Bombardier Zefiro 380 

Top Speed: 236 mph (380 km/h)
Country: China

Operator: China Railway Corporation
Operating since: 2012

The Zefiro is the new generation of very high-speed trains designed by Bombardier Transportation. They are one of the most economical and environmentally friendly trains, first introduced in China. Now they are about to enter service in Italy.

The Zefiro 380 is packed with numerous attractive features, including spacious and aesthetic interiors, an aerodynamic design that saves 20% of the total energy.

At present, a total of 85 trainsets are operated in China. Each train can accommodate up to 650 passengers in an 8 car setting and 1,336 passengers in a 16 car setting.

5. CRH380A Hexie

CRH380A Hexie

Top Speed: 236 mph (380 km/h)
Country: China

Operator: China Railway Corporation
Operating since: 2010

The CRH380A is designed to operate at a cruise speed of 217 mph (350 km/h), though it can attain even higher speeds. The original 8-car trainset can reach 302 mph (486 km/h).

The train has been redesigned for the new standard operating speed of 236 mph (380 km/h) on newly constructed high-speed main lines. It is based on a foreign design, but there have been some accusations that it used unlicensed Shinkansen technology.

The overall design of the train features low-resistance, streamlined head, highly pressurized tight body, advanced noise control technology, High-performance traction system, and regenerative braking with a maximum energy feedback rate of 95%

4. CRH380B/BL Hexie

CRH380BCRH380BL at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station

Top Speed: 236 mph (380 km/h)
Country: China

Operator: China Railway Corporation
Operating since: 2011

The CRH380B/BL Hexie is a version of the Siemens Velaro high-speed train. Its maximum operating speed is 186 mph (300 km/h), though it is capable of attaining much higher speeds.

It is a new generation of high-speed electric multiple-unit trains developed on the basis of CRH3C. Compared to CRH3C, the continuous operation speed is increased from 186 mph (300 km/h) to 217 mph (350 km/h), the maximum design speed is increased from 217 mph (350 km/h) to 236 mph (380 km/h), and the maximum test speed is 249 mph (400 km/h).

The train’s aerodynamic shape and enhanced traction power greatly improve its performance. Moreover, the damping performance, cabin noise, and pressure control features have been made better over the years to provide more comfort inside the vehicle.

3. Frecciarossa 1000

Frecciarossa 1000

Top Speed: 249 mph (400 km/h)
Country: Italy

Operator: Trenitalia
Operating since: 2015

Frecciarossa 1000 is the new high-speed train designed to meet the most advanced techniques. It can travel on all European high-speed networks and is suitable for long-distance passenger service.

It offers high-commercial speed of 223 mph (360 km/h), thanks to its 16 powerful engines distributed on all coaches. It can accommodate up to 485 passengers in four classes, which include tip-up seats for disabled people.

The train utilizes modern energy-saving technology and has several sustainable features. Up to 85% of the material used in this train can be recycled, while 95% of materials are renewable.

Read: Top 15 Fastest Aircraft In The World

2. Fuxing CR400AF/BF

FuxingCR400AF in silver and red livery

Top Speed: 261 mph (420 km/h)
Country: China

Operator: China Railway Corporation
Operating since: 2016

Fuxing is a series of electric multiple unit high-speed trains. Two of its variants — CR400AF and CR400BF — are world’s fastest non-maglev trains currently in service, with a design speed of 217 mph (350 km/h).

The name ‘Fuxing’ translates to ‘rejuvenation’ and each of the two variants have been assigned a nickname: CR400AF is ‘Blue/Red Dolphin’ and CR400BF is ‘Golden Phoenix’.

The train can carry 556 passengers and provides many facilities, including Wi-Fi access. It decreases energy consumption and adopts a standard part design. Compared to other electric multiple-unit trains, it has more reinforced safety features.

1. Shanghai Maglev

Shanghai Maglev - fastest trains in the worldImage credit: Alex Needham/Wikimedia

Top Speed: 268 mph (431 km/h)
Country: China

Operator: Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development
Operating since: 2004

Shanghai Maglev is the fastest commercial electric train in the world, built with technological help from Germany. It is the first and oldest commercial high-speed maglev still in operation.

The project took $1.3 billion and 2.5 years to complete. The line has 18.53 miles (20.5 km) track, plus a separate track for maintenance.

Read: China Reveals A Maglev Train Prototype That Goes Up To 600 Km/h

The business has not generated any profit to data. Due to the huge operating costs and the lack of passenger flow, Shanghai Maglev loses millions of dollar every year.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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