High speed rail network may be a future thing for India, but for some Asian and European countries, they’re already the backbone of their transportation systems. High speed trains became popular in 1980-90s when France, Germany, and other European countries used their resources and funding to enhance rail network connectivity. But it was Japan who first introduced Bullet trains in 1964 which is still operational and running well. Today, China and Japan lead the race to modern high speed trains with European countries like France and Spain not very far behind. In this blog, let’s explore the top 10 list of fascinating high speed trains in the world that will surely make your jaw drop.
Shanghai Maglev, China
This Chinese train was commercial started for public on 1 January 2004 and currently it is the most successful maglev train on Earth. China tops the list of the fastest trains in the world. Unlike traditional trains, Shanghai Maglev has no wheels. It floats on a magnetic field that exists between the train and the track. Powerful magnets attached to the track allow this train to levitate and move forward. Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. Ltd. owns and operates this train. It was constructed jointly by Siemens and ThyssenKrupp. You will be really amazed to know the world’s fastest train speed. It can reach a maximum speed upto 431 km/h with an average speed of 251 km/h. It runs on a 30.5 km Shanghai Maglev lane which connects Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road Station on Line 2 of Shanghai Metro. The total journey time for this train is only 7 minutes and 20 seconds.
Fuxing Hao CR400AF/BF, China
China now owns the fastest commercial long-distance high-speed trains in the world. The duo of Fuxing Hao are the fastest non-maglev trains operating in the world. The word “Fuxing Hao” literally translates to “renaissance high speed train” in english and when they say that, it’s not an exaggeration. The duo trains run between Shanghai Hongqiao station and Beijing South. The total time taken to complete the journey between these two stations is only 4 hours and 18 minutes compared to conventional trains which take at least 10 hours. These trains have got very cute nicknames: CR400AF as “Dolphin Blue” and CR400BF as “Golden Phoenix” named after auspicious Chinese animals. This Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) train was started in June 2017 and currently, it is the second fastest train in the world with the highest operational speed of 400 km/h. Some striking features of this train are completely vibration-free coaches, VIP sightseeing section, free WiFi facility, and a separate unit for serving drinks and food.
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AGV Italo, Italy
This train tops the list of fastest commercially running trains in Europe. An acronym for French: Automotrice à grande vitesse, AGV is built by a French manufacturing company called Alstom. Operating between two Italian cities, Rome and Naples, this train completes its journey of 226 km in under 1 hour. Although it was started for public use in 2012, AGV train set a world record in 2007 during its trial run when it achieved a whopping speed of 574.8 km/h. Currently, it runs with a maximum operational speed of 360 km/h. The most interesting thing about AGV Italo is that 98% of its parts are recyclable which makes it the cleanest and most eco-friendly train in our list. It has 3 different classes for passengers namely Club, Prima, and Smart. In all these classes, there are facilities for live television, free WiFi, and adjustable leather seats.
Siemens Velaro E/AVS 103, Spain
This train is developed by a German company called Siemens and operated in Spain by the state-owned company Renfe. Operating between Barcelona and Madrid, this train is one of the many Velaro trains operating in Spain. It has a maximum operational speed of 350 km/h. Started in 2007, this train completes its journey of 625 km in less than 2 hours and 30 minutes. Now, going from Barcelona to Paris takes only 6 hours thanks to Velaro E/AVS 103. It is an eight car multiple unit train whose design was inspired by the latest developments of ICE 3 train sets which were highly successful. An interesting thing about this train is that it is an electric multiple unit (EMU) train which means all modules related to traction and technical equipment are distributed under floor over the length of the train. It offers excellent running comfort along with other facilities like large screen televisions, live radio at each seat, coffee machines, and many more.
Talgo 350 (Renfe 102), Spain
This train is developed by a Spanish company named Patentes Talgo (Tren Articulado Ligero Goicoechea Oriol).It is the second fastest train operating in Spain after the Velaro train series. Talgo 350 is operated as Renfe 102 series in Spain on Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Valladolid lines. This train is popularly known as Pato (meaning duck in Spanish) because of its front part which resembles the beak of a duck. It is designed in such a way as to endure high air pressure and currents when travelling at high speeds
The maximum operating speed of this train is restricted to 330 km/h. There are four different classes present in this train for passengers namely Club class, First class, Bistro class, and Coach class. A lot of different facilities are available in this train such as comfortable reclining seats with footrests, access to audio/video, and real time information displays.
Shinkansen H5 / E5, Japan
Shinkansen H5 and E5 series trains are the fastest high-speed train service in Japan today. Started in October 2011, these trains are the fastest bullet train in the world. Jointly manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI) and Hitachi, these are operated and maintained by East Japan Railway Company (JR East). The Shinkansen H5 series operates on Tohoku services and E5 series operates on Hokkaido services. Both these trains have 3 different classes for passengers namely Standard, Green, and Gran. The main attraction of these duo trains is their Gran class which offers all high-end luxury facilities. There are extra comfortable reclining seats with leather coating in this class. The E5 train starts at Tokyo and finishes at Shin-Aomori station. The total distance between these two stations is 715 km which this train covers in only 2 hours and 56 minutes. The Shinkansen H5 and E5 series trains operate at a maximum speed of 320 km/h which makes them the fastest bullet train in the world in 2020.
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Alstom Euroduplex, France
It is a high-speed, double decker, electric multiple unit (EMU) train manufactured by a French company named Alstom. This train is mainly operated and maintained by the French national railway company SNCF. Euroduplex trains are allowed to travel between different European countries such as France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and Luxembourg. It is the third generation TGV train and unlike the previous two generations, Euroduplex is very lightweight and improved aerodynamics. It is one of the most important and popular trains operating in Europe as it connects all the major cities en route such as Stuttgart, Munich, Strasbourg, Lyon-Part-Dieu, Marseille, Basel, and Zürich. The maximum operating speed for this multi decker train is 320 km/h which makes it one of the fastest trains running in Europe. Started in December 2011, this train has the capacity of 1020 passengers at a time.
DeutscheBahn ICE, Germany
ICE trains are one of the most important trains operating in Europe along with Euroduplex. It interconnects various European countries including Germany, Austria, Denmark, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. ICE stands for Intercity Express and these are flagship trains of German state railway, Deutsche Bahn. These trains are preferred by business travelers or long distance commuters and heavily marketed as an alternative to flights by Deutsche Bahn. The maximum operating speed for these luxurious trains is 320 km/h. The distinct futuristic white and silver color of this train combined with red cheatline is a treat to watch speeding past by scenic German countryside. There are currently 259 train sets of these ICE trains operating in Germany and neighboring countries. One of the striking features of ICE train series is that their fares are fixed for station-to-station connections and not calculated on per kilometer basis. The train rides in these trains are very comfortable and offer various luxurious facilities for a premium feeling.
Korail KTX, South Korea
KTX, short for Korea Train eXpress is a high-speed rail service operated and maintained by Korail. Started in April 2004, the first high-speed line was completed between Seoul and Busan. Top speed achieved for KTX trains is 305 km/h, although it can reach up to 350 km/h. Initially, TGV Réseau made by French company Alstom were used on KTX line but now Korea’s domestically developed HEMU-430X and KTX Sancheon operate on this line. That made Korea only the fourth country in the world after Japan, France, and China to develop a high-speed train running above 420 km/h. With KTX, the travel time to reach the ski slopes of PyeongChang reduced to under 2 hours compared to 6 hours by conventional trains. Korail KTX connects different Korean cities with the Capital city, Seoul. Major stops en route are Yongsan station, Gwangju, Suseo station, and New Dongtan city.
Haramain Western Railway, Saudi Arabia
This train operates on a 453 km long Mecca-Medina high-speed line in Saudi Arabia. It started partial operation in December 2017 with full official inauguration in October 2018. Haramain train connects two very important Muslim cities viz. Mecca and Medina via King Abdullah Economic City. Talgo 350 trains made by Spanish company run on this line. The bogies and propulsion units for this train are made at Bombardier factories in Spain. The maximum speed for this train is limited to 300 km/h. It is expected to carry a large number of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims in order to reduce congestion on the roads. It reduces the travel time between these two cities to a mere 2 hours 30 minutes compared to 5 hours by car. There are a total of 5 stations on this line including Medina station, King Abdullah Economic City, King Abdulaziz International Airport, Jeddah station, and Mecca station.