It’s hard to imagine a world without trains. For generations they’ve been transporting people and goods everywhere, and we’ve come to rely on them as a popular mode of transport.
Ever since the first railway journey took place in 1804, commuters have been bundling into carriages to get to work on time. It’s amazing how much time you can save catching a train instead of a bus. No traffic means quicker average journey times, unless of course you’re one of the unfortunate few who have to rely on Southern Rail!
HS2 trains are expected to reach speeds of up to 250 miles per hour – quicker than any present operating speed in Europe – but, for now, that’s a distant dream. From Frankfurt to Shanghai, we’ve scoured the globe in search of some of the fastest trains out-there. All aboard!
- Shanghai Maglev: 267 mph
The Maglev links Longyang Road station in suburban Shanghai to Pudong International Airport, and is officially the world’s quickest train, completing the 19 mile journey between the two destinations in as little as seven minutes.
- Harmony CRH380A: 236 mph
Next up on the list is the China Railways’ Harmony, which has been running a service between Shanghai and Nanjing since 2010. In its original 8-car form, the train registered a top speed of 258.9 mph. The CRH380A is also completely vibration-free.
- Trenitalia Frecciarossa 1000: 220 mph
Known colloquially as Italy’s red arrow, Europe’s fastest train catapults people from Milan to Florence or Rome in less than three hours. First introduced at Expo 2015, the train is significant for its renewable components.
- Renfe AVE: 217 mph
As Spain’s fastest train, Velaro E by Siemens covers great distances, moving between Spanish cities and beyond. In as little as six hours, the train can dart from Barcelona to Paris.
- DeutscheBahn ICE: 205 mph
Germany’s equivalent of the Velaro E is celebrated for its impressive futuristic design. Built to pass through the Channel Tunnel at speed, it provides spectacular views of the German countryside, and very soon hopes to operate a service between London and Frankfurt.
- Eurostar e320 and TGV: 200 mph
It’s a double whammy here, with TGV and Eurostar e320 sharing the number 6 spot. As the first complete redesign of a Eurostar train in over 20 years, the e320 is the quickest in the set, shaving 15 minutes off other Eurostar journeys between London, Paris and Brussels.
TGV, meanwhile, is France’s intercity high-speed rail service, with a commuter belt covering Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Italy and Spain and Switzerland.
- Hayabusa Shinkansen E5: 200 mph
Japan is notorious for its Shinkansen bullet trains, and one of newest entries to that series is the E5. Currently operating a regular commercial service between between Tokyo and Shin-Aomori, it cuts travel times drastically, even if you’ve barely time to catch your breath.
- Thalys: 186 mph
Slower than the E5, but still fast enough to knock your wig off, is this Europe-bound train which links Amsterdam to places like Brussels and Cologne. Popular with leisure as well as business travellers, it offers multiple daily services, and, as of December 2015, extended its German route to Dortmund.
- Hokuriku Shinkansen E7: 161 mph
Yet another entry in the Shinkansen collection, this speed demon sliced journey times in half on its launch, allowing passengers to pass from Tokyo to Kanazawa, over the Japanese Alps in just over two hours. The story goes that tickets for its debut run in March 2015, sold out in just 25 seconds.
- Amtrak Acela Express: 150 mph
America’s only entry in the list launched in 2000, and operates on a limited network through the “Northeast Corridor”. Included in its route are New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC. By 2020, it’s predicted that there will be a West Coast equivalent, as phase one of California’s High-Speed Rail project takes off.