Indeed, trains can’t traverse oceans like planes can, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be just as fast. Luckily, some trains in today’s world can match the speed of planes. Below is a list of the top 10 fastest trains in the world.
10Talgo 350, 217 mph, Spain
The Talgo 350 train, developed by the Spanish company Patentes Talgo, is also known as the RENFE AVE Class 102. It operates on the Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Valladolid lines in Spain, nicknamed “Pato” due to its duck-like nose. The prototype, tested in 2002, can reach a top speed of 217mph.
The train’s aerodynamic design allows it to handle air pressure and currents at high speeds and boasts high redundancy in traction between rail and auxiliary systems. Its lightweight, airtight, and pressurized car body makes for comfortable travel through tunnels and crossings.
9AGV Italo, 224 mph, Italy
The Italo AGV, the first train in the AGV Series, started operating in April 2012 and is considered the most modern train in Europe. Running at a maximum speed of 186 mph on Italy’s high-speed lines, the AGV can also reach 224 mph. Passengers traveling on the Italo trains can reach Naples from Rome in an hour.
With fewer bogies per train, the AGV helps to reduce maintenance costs and provides more space for passengers due to its use of permanent-magnet synchronous motors. The AGV adheres to the European TSI interoperability standard, ensuring safety, reliability, environmental protection, availability, health, and technical compatibility.
8Siemens Velaro, 250 mph, Spain
A Germany-based company, Siemens, created the world’s fastest high-speed conventional train. Manufactured at the Krefeld-Uerdingen factory in Germany, this train comes in five variants: Velaro E, Velaro RUS, Velaro e320, Velaro D, and Velaro CRH3.
Currently, Velaro CRH3 operates in China and Velaro E in Spain, and they can reach top speeds of 250mph. One of the significant advantages of these trains is their efficiency, sustainability, and passenger comfort. These trains are fully operable in snow and ice, and the driver has clear visibility in various snow conditions, making it one of the main features.
7Frecciarosa 1000, 250 mph, Italy
The Frecciarossa 1000, also known as ETR 400, reaches a top speed of 250 mph and a high commercial speed of 220 mph. However, it is currently certified for 190 mph. Bombardier built the ‘Red Arrow’ train in partnership with AnsaldoBreda and provides long-distance passenger service on high-speed lines focusing on interoperability, safety, and comfort.
With less noise, the train took its inaugural trip from Milan to Rome on April 25, 2015. Additionally, the Frecciarossa 1000 has obtained the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), as it can limit CO2. It also uses the ERTMS/ETCS to control the train and eliminate human error.
6Fuxing Hao CR 400AF/BF, 260 mph, China
The CR400AF train has a sleek body that reduces drag and can reach a top speed of 260mph. Its silver-gray background is accented by red lines on both sides, giving it an elegant and powerful appearance. Meanwhile, the CR400BF train boasts a protruding vitreous head with gentle sides and gold ribbons outlining its pure white body.
China introduced the Fuxing Hao CR 400AF/BF high-speed train in 2007, which runs on the Beijing Shanghai high-speed railway line and can travel from Beijing south to Shanghai Hongqiao in just four hours. The CR 400 AF is nicknamed ‘Dolphin Blue’ while the CR 400 BF is known as ‘golden phoenix.’
5HEMU-430X, 267 mph, South Korea
The HEMU-430X is an experimental high-speed train from South Korea capable of reaching speeds up to 267 mph. During a test run on March 31, 2013, it achieved a top speed of 261.846 mph, making South Korea the fourth country in the world to develop a train that can run above 260.976 mph.
The main difference between this train and older high-speed trains is its distributed traction system. Commercial versions of the train, including the EMU-260 and EMU-320, were delivered to Korail from 2020-2021. Unveiled on May 17, 2012, HEMU-430X underwent around 100,000 km of testing up to 2015.
4 Shanghai Maglev, 268 mph, China
A magnetic levitation train transports travelers from Pudong International Airport to the city’s heart at impressive speeds. This train holds the Guinness Record for being the fastest train in commercial use since 2003, boasting a top operational speed of 268mph while using only half the energy consumption of buses and a quarter of airplanes.
Unlike traditional trains, the maglev trains do not touch the railway line, making it quieter. This train is the third oldest maglev line in the world, after the British Birmingham Maglev line and the German M-Bahn line. The train’s interior is modern, clean, and comfortable, similar to an airplane.
3 Harmony CRH 380A, 302 mph, China
The CRH380A from China can travel at a cruising speed of 217 mph and a maximum speed of 236 mph during commercial service. It operates regularly between Shanghai and Nanjing, and its design reduces aerodynamic pressure while providing a comfortable ride for passengers. Additionally, a VIP sightseeing spot near the driver’s cabin allows travelers to enjoy the train’s views in motion.
The train has lightweight aluminum alloy bodies with fish-head fronts and can carry up to 494 passengers simultaneously, with a top operational speed of 302 mph. China has also incorporated advanced noise control technology into these trains, using new sound-absorbing and insulating materials in their construction.
2 TGV POS, 357.2 mph, France
Alstom built the TGV train for France’s national rail company, SNCF. It runs on France’s high-speed rail lines and connects France to southern Germany and Switzerland. One of these trains, POS 4402, set a new world speed record on April 3, 2007, reaching a top speed of 357.2mph.
The train’s asynchronous motors ensure safety by isolating individual motors in a powered bogie in case of failure. The SNCF has numbered this train as part of the 4400 series. The TGV POS is a faster and more efficient model with exterior bodywork similar to the TGV Duplex.
1 L0 Series Maglev, 375 mph, Japan
The L0 Series Maglev can be easily identified by its remarkably long nose, measuring 49 ft, which aids in reducing drag, increasing speed, and minimizing energy consumption. This train set a land speed record of 375 mph on April 21, 2015, surpassing the previous record of 361mph held by the MLX01, another Japanese maglev, in December 2003.
The L0 Series Maglev is one of the fastest trains expected to commence commercial operations in Tokyo and Osaka, covering 178 miles between Tokyo and Nagoya in just 40 minutes. The first section of the train is scheduled to be ready by 2027.