Since the early 19th century, the train has always stood as a monument to human engineering and ingenuity, with its invention pushing us to develop even more groundbreaking technologies and to spread the industrial revolution across the globe. Nowadays trains have become one of the fastest ways to travel over land, and they continue to improve every day. Whether you are just a tourist looking to travel in style or a real, bona fide train enthusiast, these are the 25 Fastest Trains In The World. Don’t blink or you might just miss them.
Featured image: Lee Prince / Shutterstock.com
We’ll begin this list with an honorary mention. Although still years away from being a commercial reality, the Hyperloop train is a theoretical high-speed transportation vehicle proposed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk. Traveling through a low-pressure tube, the Hyperloop could travel at speeds of up to 760 mph, fast enough to travel between Los Angeles and San Francisco in only 30 minutes. It comes in at 25 because it doesn’t exist yet.
Reaching speeds of 126 mph, Mallard broke the steam locomotive world speed record in 1938 and to this day is considered to be the worlds fastest steam-powered train. Mallard was retired in 1963 and can be seen on display at the United Kingdom’s National Railway Museum in York.
Owned by Amtrak, the Acela Express services all along the North East Corridor of the United States, reaching from Washington DC to Boston, Massachusetts. With a peak speed of 150 mph, the Acela Express is the fastest train in North America.
Designed and manufactured in Japan, the THSR 700T was modeled almost directly after the Japanese Shinkansen 700 Series. With a top speed of 186 mph, the 700T is the fastest high-speed train on the island of Taiwan.
Traveling at 186 mph, Thalys connects 17 cities In Belgium, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Based out of Brussels, Thalys can travel from there to Paris in under 90 minutes, and promises full reimbursements if they’re late.
Manufactured by Bombardier Transportation, Regina is a Swedish high-speed passenger train. Although it usually only runs at a commercial speed of 120 mph, a modified Regina was used to set the Swedish rail speed record at 188 mph in 2008.
Officially known as the AGV 575, the Italo was manufactured by French railway company Alstom and owned by Italian company NTV. With a maximum speed of 190 mph, the AGV Italo was the fastest train in Italy until 2015, when it was beaten by the Frecciarossa 1000.
Based almost entirely on the Siemens Velaro platform, the HT80000 can reach top speeds of about 190 mph and is the fastest commercial high-speed train in Turkey.
The Euroduplex is a high-speed, bi-level train that can reach speeds of 200 mph. The first version was bought and operated by the French SNCF railway company, however a second was also sold the ONCF in Morocco, making the Euroduplex the first high-speed train on the African Continent.
Traveling at 200 mph, the Eurostar e320 connects the cities of London, Paris, and Brussels, as well as crosses beneath the English Channel. Although their trains are manufactured by German company Siemans Velaro, Eurostar is actually an international joint operation between France, the United Kingdom, and Belgium.
Opened for service in 2009, this South Korean train was the culmination of over ten years of research and was the second commercial high-speed train developed in the Koreas. At top speed the train can travel at 219 mph, however it was later restricted to only 186 mph due to safety concerns.
Initially built to connect the Spanish cities of Madrid and Barcelona, the Talgo 350 can reach top speeds of 227 mph and is nicknamed Pato, meaning duck in Spanish, due to the front of the trains similar appearance to the bill of a duck.
Produced by Canadian aerospace and transportation firm Bombardier, the Zefiro 380 can reach top operating speeds of 236 mph and will operate out of Qingdao China in the near future.
Shinkansen Bullet Trains
Operated by the East Japan Railway Group, the E5 and E6 series Shinkansen bullet trains can reach speeds nearing 250 miles per hour. The trains are also well known for maintaining high speed without sacrificing the comfort and safety of the passengers.
Nicknamed the Red Arrow, the Frecciarossa is Italy’s fastest train in service, traveling up to nearly 250 mph at its maximum speed. It is also one of the most environmentally conscious high-speed trains in the world, with minimal CO2 emissions and composed of nearly 100% recyclable materials.
Developed by Siemens Velaro and operated by the Spanish railway company RENFE, the Velaro E train can reach top speeds of 251 mph. It holds the national record for fastest rail speed in Spain, as well as the land speed record for a standard configuration, non-modified train.
Originally known as the Intercity Experimental, ICE V was a government-funded research project exploring the feasibility of high-speed rail transit in Germany. In 1988 it set a new land speed record for railed vehicles at 253 miles per hour.
Standing for Linear Induction Motor Research Vehicle, the LIMRV was outfitted with a 3000 horsepower gas turbine to power the linear induction motor, as well as two J52 jet engines to push the vehicle to even higher speeds. In 1974 the LIMRV achieved 256 mph, a world record for vehicles on a conventional rail at the time.
Built by French engineer Jean Bertin, the Aérotrain I80 was a jet-propelled hovertrain that, in 1974, set a world speed record for overland air-cushion vehicles at 267 mph. The train never saw commercial use due to lack of funding and Jean Bertin’s death in 1977. However it did set the groundwork for the maglev trains that came in the years following.
This high-speed train was put into service at the end of 2010 and is the only Chinese locomotive series not to be based on foreign designs or technologies. Its record top speed is 302 mph, however after a severe collision in 2011 the Chinese Ministry of Railways reduced the trains operating speed to only 186 mph.
Shanghai Maglev Train
The first commercially operated magnetic levitation train in the world, the Shanghai Maglev Train opened for service in 2004 and was the first application of trains developed by German manufacturers Transrapid. The SMT can reach speeds up to 311 mph and connects the outskirts of Shanghai to the Pudong International Airport.
The latest and most advanced maglev train developed by German manufacturers Transrapid, the 09 series is designed to travel at a cruising speed of around 311 mph and can accelerate and decelerate in a fraction of the time it takes other high speed trains.
In 2007 a modified TGV POS claimed the world speed record for a conventional railed vehicle by reaching a peak speed of 357 mph. The train was modified to use only the two power cars as well as larger wheels. The unmodified rolling stock which connects France and Switzerland is limited to top speeds of 200 mph.
Traveling at a shocking 363 miles per hour on a 27 mile test track in Yamanashi Japan, the experimental maglev train MLX01 set a new land speed record for rail vehicles in 2003. It held onto the record for twelve years until being beaten by another Japanese maglev train in 2015, riding on the same track.
SCMaglev L0 Series
With speeds peaking at 375 mph, this Japanese maglev train is the record holder of the fastest rail vehicle in the world. Although it has yet to see commercial use, it is expected to connect the Japanese cities of Tokyo and Osaka in the near future.