17 Fastest Trains In The World | 2024 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 of 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 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 2022, China had 26,100 miles (42,000 km) of high-speed rail network, accounting for over two-thirds of the world’s total.

In this article, we present a comprehensive and accurate portrayal of the world’s fastest trains that are operated commercially. Our ranking is based on several criteria, including commercial operations, maximum speed achieved, and the incorporation of groundbreaking technologies. 

It is interesting to note that 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.

Did you know? 

The L0 Series high-speed maglev train set a land speed record of 375 mph (603 km/h) on 21 April 2015. It operates on magnetic levitation technology, floating above the tracks without any physical contact.

17. Velaro RUS

Velaro Rus traveling from Moscow to Saint Petersburg

Record Speed: 180 mph (290 km/h)

Country: Russia
Operator: Russian Railways since 2009

The Valero RUS is a Russian gauge high-speed electric express train developed by the German 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.

16. Talgo 350

Record Speed: 227 mph (365 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 186 mph (300 km/h)

Country: Saudi Arabia
Operator: Saudi Railway Organization since 2018

The Talgo 350 is designed to be optimally aerodynamic to handle air currents and pressure at high speeds. It runs on 4,000 kW 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 always remain in parallel with the track, even in curved stretches.

Passenger comfort is a priority, with seats featuring a pleasant reclining angle, rotating footrests, and an adjustable air conditioning system. Tables, power outlets, and reading lamps are also provided, enhancing the overall passenger experience.

15. CRH2C  


Record Speed: 217 mph (350 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 193 mph (310 km/h)

Country: China
Operator: China Railway Corporation 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 National Railway Science and Technology Award, while its bogie technology won the first prize in 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 a power-decentralized train that consists of four trailer cars and four motor cars.

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

14. Bombardier Zefiro 380

Max Operated Speed: 236 mph (380 km/h)

Country: China
Operator: China Railway Corporation 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.

In China, about 85 trainsets are currently in operation. These trains can host up to 650 passengers in an 8-car configuration and 1,336 passengers in a 16-car setup.

13. AGV 575

Record Speed: 224 mph (360 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 186 mph (300 km/h)

Country: Italy
Operator: Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori 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.

For safety, the train’s nose is equipped with a kinetic energy absorption unit for collision protection. The combination of a rigid body and a semi-rigid link between cars enhances safety in the event of a collision or derailment.

12. Shinkansen E5 and H5 Series

Shinkansen E5 Series on a Hayabusa service

Record Speed: 224 mph (360 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 199 mph (320 km/h)

Country: Japan
Operator: JR East and JR Hokkaido since 2011 and 2016

The E5 and H5 series Shinkansen are both Japanese high-speed trains equipped with electric active suspensions.

The new-generation E5 series is designed for increased speed and comfort. It features an extended 15-meter nose for improved aerodynamics and a cutting-edge braking system that reduces stopping distance, even at high speeds.

The H5 series incorporates cold-weather enhancements, including durable rubber for car connections, improved snowplows on the lead units, and a stainless-steel underframe to protect electronics.

Both trains share an identical maximum operating speed and overall design. However, they can be distinguished by the color of their bodyside stripe: E5 has a pink stripe, while H5 has a lavender stripe. Additionally, the E5 series uses normal halogen headlamps with a whitish glow, while the H5 series features LED headlamps with a yellowish glow.

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

11. Frecciarossa 1000

Record Speed: 245 mph (394 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 186 mph (300 km/h)

Country: Italy
Operator: Trenitalia 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 a 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.

10. CRH3C

CRH3C at Changsha South railway station

Record Speed: 245 mph (394 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 193 mph (310 km/h)

Country: China
Operator: China Railway since 2008

First introduced in April 2008, CRH3C is part of the CRH3 series. It is designed to attain maximum speeds of up to 217 mph (350 km/h), which makes it one of the fastest commercial trains in the world.

It connects cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, reducing travel times between major urban centers. These routes are strategically planned to serve corridors with high passenger demand.

The train has four motor cars and four trailer cars. There are two driving units, each handling two motor cars and two trailer cars. Like all high-speed trains, it includes all advanced features such as advanced train control systems, improved braking systems, and safety measures in compliance with international standards. 

9. AVE Class 103   

Record Speed: 251 mph (404 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 193 mph (310 km/h)

Country: Spain
Operator: Renfe-Operadora since 2006

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

AVE trains, particularly Class 102, 103, and 105, are designed to operate at speeds of 193 mph (310 km/h), with the capability of reaching even higher speeds. As of 2023, the AVE system is the longest high-speed rail network in Europe, covering 2,464 miles (3,966 km), and is the second-longest globally, following mainland China.

Its new variant, Class 105, is a non-articulated electric multiple-unit with distributed traction. The entire bodyshell is constructed from aluminum, and each car features a 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. Fuxing CR400AF/BF

CR400AF in silver and red livery

Record Speed: 261 mph (420 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 217 mph (350 km/h)

Country: China
Operator: China Railway Corporation since 2016

The Fuxing series comprises electric multiple-unit high-speed trains, featuring two variants: CR400AF and CR400BF. These are currently one of the fastest non-maglev trains in service, designed to reach speeds of 217 mph (350 km/h).

The name ‘Fuxing’ translates to ‘rejuvenation,’ and each variant has a nickname: CR400AF is known as ‘Blue/Red Dolphin,’ and CR400BF is dubbed ‘Golden Phoenix.’

Capable of accommodating 556 passengers, the train offers various amenities, including Wi-Fi access. It prioritizes energy efficiency, employs a standardized part design, and incorporates enhanced safety features compared to other electric multiple-unit trains.

7. CRH380D

CRH380D at Guangzhou North railway station

Record Speed: 300 mph (483 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 217 mph (350 km/h)

Country: China
Operator: China Railway since 2012

The CRH380D is a high-speed train model developed in China to improve the country’s high-speed rail infrastructure. It’s an advanced version of the CRH380 series, with better performance and efficiency. 

The train operates on multiple high-speed rail lines, connecting major cities across China. It significantly reduces the time it takes to commute between distant locations. 

As for design and configuration, the CRH380D has an aerodynamic design to minimize air resistance and enhance overall efficiency. It has eight cars and is configured in a distributed traction system, meaning traction motors are distributed throughout the train set rather than being concentrated in a locomotive. 

6. CRH380A Hexie

Record Speed: 302 mph (486 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 236 mph (350 km/h)

Country: China
Operator: China Railway Corporation 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 a low-resistance, streamlined head, highly pressurized tight body, advanced noise control technology, a high-performance traction system, and regenerative braking with a maximum energy feedback rate of 95%. 

5. CRH380B/BL Hexie

CRH380BL at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station

Record Speed: 303 mph (487.3 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 236 mph (380 km/h)

Country: China
Operator: China Railway Corporation 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.

4. Shanghai Maglev

Image credit: Alex Needham/Wikimedia

Record Speed: 311 mph (501 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 268 mph (431 km/h)

Country: China
Operator: Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development since 2004

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

The project required $1.3 billion and 2.5 years to complete, featuring an 18.53-mile (20.5 km) track, along with a separate track dedicated to maintenance.

As of now, the train infrastructure has not yielded any profit. Due to substantial operating costs and a limited number of passengers, the Shanghai Maglev incurs millions of dollars in losses each year.

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

3. TGV Atlantique

Record Speed: 320 mph (515 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 300 mph (186 km/h)

Country: France
Operator: French National Rail Company

Introduced in the early 1990s as an extension of the original TGV fleet, TGV Atlantique connects Paris to cities like Le Mans, Tours, and Bordeaux.

In 1990, the modified TGV Atlantique set the world speed record before its official opening. The modification, which included enhanced aerodynamics, enhanced braking system, and larger wheels, allowed test run speed to exceed 311 mph (500 km/h). 

The train has an articulated design with power cars at both ends. This design allows for a smoother ride and better stability at high speeds. 


TGV POS at Strasbourg

Record Speed: 357 mph (575 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 199 mph (320 km/h)

Country: France
Operator: French National Rail Company and Swiss Federal Railways since 2006

The TGV POS (Train à Grande Vitesse Pendulaire) operates on the French high-speed rail network and the Swiss rail network. It is equipped with all necessary systems to comply with the different signaling and electrification standards of each country.

The “pendulaire” in its name refers to the tilting technology incorporated into the train. This technology allows the train to tilt into curves at high speeds while maintaining passenger comfort. 

In April 2007, the TGV POS, using two power cars, established a world speed record for travel on conventional rails, reaching 357.2 mph (574.8 km/h).

The train can maintain high speeds for extended periods, making it well-suited for long-distance travel. It efficiently connects major cities, reducing travel times between them.

1. L0 Series Shinkansen

Series L0-950

Record Speed: 375 mph (603 km/h)
Max Operated Speed: 310 mph (500 km/h)

Country: Japan
Operator: Central Japan Railway Company

The L0 Series is a high-speed maglev that is currently under the development and testing phase. It uses a magnetic levitation technology developed by Central Japan Railway Company and the Railway Technical Research Institute.

While the train is expected to operate at a maximum speed of 310 mph (500 km/h), it can go over 373 mph (600 km/h). 

In 2015, a manned L0 Series train with seven cars achieved a speed of 375 mph (603 km/h), surpassing the earlier land speed record for trains of 361 mph (581 km/h) set by an MLX01 maglev vehicle in 2003. 

More To Know

Milestones in the high-speed rail network

The rapid evolution of high-speed trains can be traced back to the mid-20th century, with experiments and prototypes laying the foundation for what would become the high-speed rail network. 

  • Japan’s Shinkansen (1964) was the world’s first high-speed passenger train that revolutionized travel by connecting Tokyo and Osaka at unprecedented speeds.
  • France’s Train à Grande Vitesse (1981) broke all previous speed records, reaching a speed of 236 mph (380 km/h). 
  • The Eurostar Channel Tunnel Connection (1994) connected Paris and London through the Channel Tunnel, showcasing international high-speed rail cooperation. 
  • Maglev Train (2003): With the Shanghai Maglev Train, China pushed the boundaries of what’s possible high-speed travel. 
How is high-speed rail infrastructure funded?

High-speed rail infrastructure is a complex endeavor that requires hundreds of billions of dollars of investment from different sources, such as 

  • Government Funding
  • Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs)
  • International Financing from foreign governments or development banks

Once the project is complete, the high-speed rail systems generate revenue through ticket sales, which cover operational costs, ongoing maintenance, and repayment of loans.

How do high-speed trains manage curves and turns at such high speeds?

The rail tracks are designed with gentle curves, minimizing abrupt changes in direction. These gentle curves decrease the lateral forces experienced by the train and enhance stability at high speeds. 

Furthermore, high-speed trains also feature advanced tilting systems, which allow them to lean into curves, counteracting the effects of lateral forces. 

Are there speed limits for high-speed trains, or can they operate at their maximum speed at all times?

While high-speed trains can reach remarkable speeds, they may not operate at these speeds continuously. Speed limits are imposed on various sections of the rail network for safety reasons. These speed limits are determined by factors like curve radii, track conditions, weather, and the overall design of the rail infrastructure.

Read More

14 Fastest Aircraft In The World Of All Time 

24 Fastest Things In The World 

Written by
Varun Kumar

I am a professional technology and business research analyst with more than a decade of experience in the field. My main areas of expertise include software technologies, business strategies, competitive analysis, and staying up-to-date with market trends.

I hold a Master's degree in computer science from GGSIPU University. If you'd like to learn more about my latest projects and insights, please don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected].

View all articles
Leave a reply