Even though we don’t realize it, train technology has come a long way. The first known railroad tracks were invented way back in the sixth century, evolving into an entire interconnected network that takes people from place to place. Trains not only transport people—they transport anything. That’s why they’re pretty important methods of transportation.
Trains, in fact, serve an incredible variety of purposes. They help haul various goods and products to and from different parts of the world. Those goods and products can involve something as simple as perishables… to something as complicated as an entire vehicle. Trains are well favored by people for the vast miles they travel… miles that they feel more than welcome to comfortably sit out.
Trains, at this point, have an entire culture surrounding them, so could you imagine what trains would be like if they were as fast as some of the fastest trains in the world? Over the years, train technology has naturally become much more advanced than technology of the past.
As the demands of industries and passengers grow, so will the sheer speed that trains need to produce to travel efficiently across the world. In this article, we’re going to look at 10 of the fastest trains in the world today.
The 10 Fastest Trains In The World
1. The MLX01
The world’s fastest train is the MLX01, a maglev train that currently resides as a part of the Maglev Chuo Shinkansen Line in Japan. Being so fast, it’s already broken the standing record for maglev records in the world, after it surpassed the speed that was once considered the fastest for trains of its kind: 500 kph (about 310.7 miles per hour).
The MLX01 can reach speeds breaking as much as 361 miles per hour (581 kph), making it the fastest train in the world. And, it lies in its intrinsic technology—this train uses maglev technology, which is designed to propel the train with the use of magnetic levitation. While still not used for public transportation, the MLX 01 is still being looked at as a potential ‘model train’ to eventually replace the bullet trains within Japan.
2. The TGV Est V150
Our number one fastest train in the world used maglev technology, though this train – number two – uses completely conventional technology found in today’s trains. The TGV Est V150 from Germany is that train, producing fast speeds that go as high as 357.2 miles per hour (574.8 kph). That particular speed record was initially measured during a test trip that ran through Paris into Strasbourg. Those speeds were pretty much made possible by its powerful 25,000-horsepower engines.
3. The ML-500R
The ML-500R is a precursor and, at the same time, a pioneer of some of the technologies that are used to make the world’s fastest trains today. While an unmanned sample train, the ML-500R is still responsible for helping along the development of maglev technology used in many fast trains today.
This train actually held the record as the fastest train in the world, after it had established that record after reaching speeds of 321.2 miles per hour (517 kph) in 1979. That speed record was recorded during a test run that took place at the Miyazaki test track in Japan, a track that spanned over 4 miles.
4. The Transrapid 08
As another one of the fastest trains in the world, the Transrapid 08 is the only Transrapid train that’s actually (100%) open to the public for transportation!
Also known as the Shanghai maglev train, people who want to experience one of the world’s fastest trains in person have to travel to, you guessed it, China for that experience. As for the Transrapid 08 itself, it was initially constructed in 2001, open to the public just a year later. Though, it cemented its status as one of the fastest trains in the world at Germany’s Transrapid test facility, where it reached an incredible speed of 311.3 miles per hour (501 mph).
5. The Transrapid 07
Unlike its Transrapid 08 counterpart, the Transrapid 07 is an experimental maglev trains. Even though it’s experimental, it’s still one of the fastest known trains in the world today.
By using experimental maglev technology of the time, the Transrapid 07 proved in June 1993 that it was one of the fastest trains in the world (at the time). This happened during a test run along the TVE test track right in Hamburg, Germany. During the test run, it reached a speed of 279.6 miles per hour (450 kph).
6. The Shinkansen
Also simply known as a bullet train, the Shinkansen is best known as a high speed transportation system based out of Japan. Primarily developed by the Japan Railways Group, it actually employs the use of traditional modern train technology, meaning that it uses much of the same components as many modern trains, right down to the railroad tracks.
Even though the technology isn’t as advanced as the aforementioned maglev technology, it still helped the Shinkansen break past speed records of 275 miles per hour (443 kph). While one of the fastest trains in the world, the Shinkansen is dialed down to a much safer 186 miles per hour (300 kph) for regular passengers.
7. The MLU002N
Another one of the fastest Japanese trains in the world, the MLU002N uses maglev technology, which mainly responsible for helping this train reach near record breaking speeds. In a completely unmanned test that was conducted in 1994, it ended up reaching a top speed of 267.8 (431 kph).
When it was tested with few patrons on board, it registered a top speed that reached 255.4 miles per hour (411 kph). While those speeds are incredibly impressive for a manned test, the MLU002N hasn’t been used as a public transport. It instead serves as inspiration for helping along the production of faster modern trains in Japan.
8. The Aerotrain
The Aerotrain was a train that used a more unique approach to train technology. Birthed by Jean Bertin, the Aerotrain used both air and jet engines to power this train and, eventually, reach the top speeds that it would be known for.
In fact, those speeds were discovered during a run in 1974, where it managed to reach a top speed of 267.3 miles per hour (430 kph). While those speeds were impressive at the time, the Aerotrain project didn’t end up becoming fully realized, as the French government instead opted to invest in trains powered with maglev technology.
9. The Transrapid 06
Another Transrapid train, the Transrapid 06 is also one of the oldest known Transrapid models, having been first tested at the Transrapid Test Facility in Germany as early as 1988. As it was mainly used as a test train, it managed to turn out an impressive top speed of 256.4 miles per hour (412 kph). Interestingly enough, these results were pretty much enough to ‘green light’ the production of its sister models, the more refined Transrapid 07 and Transrapid 08.
10. The ICE V
This train, also known as the InterCity Experimental train, is one of the world’s fastest trains that was exclusively made in Germany by the German government. It’s also the result of an ambitious project that was essentially designed to make a high speed rail system that would extend throughout the entirety of Europe.
In 1988, the ICE V made one of its first test runs, registering a top speed of 252.8 miles per hour (406.9 kph). That record was so impressive that the ICE V was immediately approved and commissioned for public transportation as soon as 1991. Since commuters didn’t enjoy the fast speed of this particular train, the ICE V was eventually made to operate at a slower and safer pace.