The 10 Fastest Trains in the World

1. Shanghai Maglev: 268 mph

The world’s fastest train isn’t the newest, the shiniest, or even the one with the most expensive tickets. Charging 50 yuan (about $8) per person, per ride (or double that for a “VIP” ticket in a slightly more spacious cabin), the Maglev runs the nearly 19 miles from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport to the Longyang metro station on the outskirts of Shanghai.

2. Fuxing Hao CR400AF/BF: 249 mph

China wins again, also serving as home to the world’s fastest non-Maglev train currently in service. The name “Fuxing Hao” translates to “rejuvenation,” and each of the trains have been branded with nicknames: CR400AF is “Dolphin Blue,” and the CR400BF is “Golden Phoenix.” (The “CR” stands for China Railway.)

Both take just under five hours to zip up to 556 passengers each between Beijing South and Shanghai Hongqiao Station, easily halving the nearly 10-hour time it takes to ride the conventional, parallel rail line between these two megalopolises. 

3. Shinkansen H5 and E5: 224 mph

A bullet train pioneer, Japan debuted the Hikari high-speed train launched service between Tokyo and Osaka way back in 1964 that, cutting travel time between the country’s two largest cities from nearly seven hours to a mere four by rail.

The H5 and E5 series Shinkansen, respectively running the Tohoku and Hokkaido services, are two of the newer bullet trains on Japan’s tracks, and they’re expected to make their international debut on India’s first high-speed rail line, connecting Mumbai and Ahmedabad, in 2026.

4. The Italo and Frecciarossa: 220 mph

Italy’s dueling train operators, NTV and Trenitalia, each flaunt a high-speed train that tie as Europe’s fastest, capable of shuttling passengers around much of the country far faster than by car. An international route from Milan to Paris, taking six hours, has proved to be so popular that Trenitalia has increased their daily frequencies.

The Frecciarossa, or “red arrow,” was unveiled during Expo 2015, held in Milan, and the train is remarkable as much for its speed as for its construction; its components are nearly 100 percent renewable and sustainable.

5. Haramain Western Railway: 217 mph

The Mecca-Medina high-speed link stretches the 281 miles between Saudi Arabia’s most holy cities and was fully completed in 2018. Traveling the length of the route takes two and a half hours, compared to five hours by car.

Speed isn’t the entire justification for the construction of this railway, however; the Haramain carries millions of passengers a year, including many Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, relieving traffic congestion.

6. DeutscheBahn ICE: 205 mph

The distinctively futuristic white and silver of the Inter-City Express, or ICE, combined with its sharp red cheatline, makes an impressive sight speeding through scenic German countryside. And, with Deutsche Bahn placing more and more orders for them, they’ll become quite a common sight by 2030, when some 450 ICE trains run on Europe’s rails. 

7. Eurostar e320 and TGV: 200 mph

Both the TGV and Eurostar e320 trains are tied for next on the list, but the latter underwent a redesign in 2015. Named for its top speed of 320 km/hr (200 mph), the e320 series is the first tip-to-tail redesign of a Eurostar train in the company’s 22 years.

The speedier trains—20 km/hr faster than the earlier, e300 series—are capable of trimming another 15 minutes off the already zippy Eurostar trips of around two hours between Brussels, Paris, and London, and cutting the comparatively lengthy ride from London to Amsterdam to under four hours.

8. Al Boraq: 198 mph

Named for a winged horse animal from Islamic lore, Al Boraq puts Africa on the list of fastest trains with an hourly, 116-mile service between Tangier and Kenitra, in Morocco. From Kenitra, it must slow down to travel on regular tracks into the Casablanca terminus, but the entire journey is still sliced in half, from almost five hours of travel time to just over two hours.

9. Renfe AVE: 193 mph

Spain’s fastest train is the Velaro E by Siemens, and it is used for long-distance services to major Spanish cities and beyond: traveling from Barcelona to Paris can now be accomplished on high-speed rail in six hours.

10. Korail KTX: 190 mph

South Korea’s high-speed rail network may not be the newest (the KTX, or “Korean Train Express,” debuted in 2004) or the shiniest, but it does hold its rank among the fastest. In 2018 the train enabled athletes and spectators to reach the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics direct from Incheon International Airport, cutting the journey from six hours to under two.


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