Fastest High Speed Trains

Fastest High Speed Trains: A Country-by-Country Look

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Before you begin to read about the Fastest High Speed Trains …

Did you know that “High Speed Rail” or “HSR” refers to a specifically designed network of railway lines? The trains with speeds typically faster than the conventional ones are meant to use this network. For instance, trains that exceed speeds of 200-250 km/h. These trains are collectively termed as the fastest high speed trains. 

Apart from this, have you ever thought about traveling in the fastest train on this planet? Say, a train with a top speed of 430 km/h, it’s unbelievable, right? Which country do you think would have the fastest of these trains? What factors make these trains the fastest? Or, which were the first-ever high speed trains to exist? 

Such questions must strike your mind after reading the title, right?

Therefore, find answers to all these questions and get introduced to the fastest high speed trains, their specifications, and various railway networks in this blog!

Global Leaders in High Speed Rail

1. China 

The HSR Network: An overall approach

Covering approximately 41,000 km by the end of 2021, China accurately claims to hold the longest operating HSR network globally. The first high speed rail network, Beijing-Tianjin Intercity HSR 2008, was opened in China. 

Moreover, the government of China counts on HSR as a key investment for sustainable growth. This is because it is a low-emission technology, that enhances goods mobility and the efficiency of human resources. 

Lastly, according to its 14th five-year plan (2021-2025), China targets to include about 95% of large towns i.e., a population of 500,000 or more, in its HSR system by 2025. Hence, HSR in China continues to act as a beacon for advanced transportation and revolution by connecting towns with major economic centers. 

A Look at the Fastest High Speed Trains in China

Let us know in detail about some of the fastest high speed trains in the country, based on their top speeds and interesting features.

1. CRH380BL (Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway)

Top Speed – 487.3 km/h (302.8 mph)

Train type – Electric Multiple Units (EMU), CRH380 series

Special Feature – Commercial train to set a world record for the highest speed

2. Shanghai Maglev Train

Top Speed – 431 km/h (238 mph)

Train type – uses Electromagnetic Suspension (EMS) technology

Special Feature – World’s first commercially operated maglev train

3. Fuxing Hao Trains (Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway)

Top Speed – Operation – 350 km/h, Average – 291.9 km/h (181.4 mph)

Train type – Fuxing Hao (CR400AF, CR400BF) series

Special Feature – Enhanced safety, better efficiency and improved passenger comfort

4. G17/G39 (Beijing-Shanghai high speed railway) 

Top Speed – 317.7 km/h (197.4 mph)

Train type – Electric Multiple Units (EMU)

Special Feature – Efficient connectivity between Beijing and Nanjing

5. CRH2/CRH3 (Wuhan Guangzhou high speed railway)

Top Speed – 312.5 km/h (194.2 mph)

Train type – CRH3/CRH2 coupled-train sets

Special Feature – High speed travel with increased passenger capacity

These are the top five operational fastest high speed trains in China, ranked according to their top speeds and high speed railway networks. Moreover, Fuxing Hao CR400AF-A, Hexie Hao

CRH6F, and CRH380D are other examples of EMU trains. These trains combined, make it easy to travel in China. 

Explore the Latest Advancements in China

Lastly, let us explore the recently developed advancements in the railway sector. Hence, below is a list of recently developed high speed rail lines in 2023 in China:

2. Japan

The HSR Network: Significance of the Shinkansen

A streamlined locomotive with a spitzer-shaped nose cone, Tokaido Shinkansen, is the first high speed rail system in Japan. It began operating in Honshu in 1964. A fun fact about these fastest high speed trains is that you already know much more than you think about these trains. How? They just go by a modern name – “bullet trains”. I’m sure it all makes more sense now. 

Furthermore, this rail network covers Japan’s three major islands – Hokkaido, Honshu, and Kyushu. The total area is 2,951.3 km with speeds of 260-320 km/h (160-200 mph). It carries millions of passengers, which makes it one of the busiest high speed lines. 

In addition, it can capacitate up to 16 trains per hour in each direction, with a minimum headway of 3 minutes between them. 

Lastly, for future expansion, an extension to Sapporo (on Hokkaido) is scheduled to commence in March 2031.

A Look at the Fastest High Speed Trains in Japan 

“I miss riding those fast trains in Japan, cause I’d never seen a train that fast in my life.” 

This quote by Ike Turner absolutely complements the beauty and speed of Japan’s fastest high speed trains. So, let us study in detail about what makes these trains so popular and an inspiration for other countries with the help of the list below. 

1. Hayabusa (E5 series)

Top Speed – 320 km/h (200 mph)

Train type – Tohoku Shinkansen (Tohoku to Aomori)

Special Feature – A smoother ride because of an active suspension system

2. Komachi (E6 series)

Top Speed – 320 km/h (200 mph)

Train type – Tokyo to Akita via Morioka

Special Feature – Specifically built for Akita’s snowy climate

3. Nozomi

Top Speed – 300 km/h (185 mph)

Train type – Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines

Special Feature – Smoother cornering due to tilting technology

4. Mizuho

Top Speed – 300 km/h (186 mph)

Train type – Kyushu and Sanyo Shinkansen lines

Special Feature – Wheelchair facility inside the cars

5. Hikari

Top Speed – Approx. 285 km/h (177 mph)

Train type – Tokaido Shinkansen (Tokyo to Osaka)

Special Feature – Advanced aerodynamics

6. Sakura

Top Speed – Average speed of 300 km/h (186 mph)

Train type – Kyushu Shinkansen line

Special Feature – Cherry blossom view as it runs along the Sumida river

7. Kodama 

Top Speed – 285 km/h (185 mph)

Train type – Tokaido Shinkansen lines, 700 series

Special Feature – Serves local travelers and frequent stops

The Magic of LO Series Maglev Trains in Japan

If you break down the word: Maglev, you get two words – ‘Magnetic’ and ‘Levitation’. This magnetic levitation or ‘floating’ of the train is achieved through an advanced technology, called Electrodynamic Suspension(EDS). These superconducting electromagnets on the train interact with the coil in the guideway which eventually results in lifting the train 4 inches off the ground. 

Besides, they inherit an impeccable ‘safety record’ with zero fatal accidents in sixty years of operation. 

Apart from this, the central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) aims to reach a top speed of 500 km/h (311 mph) through the ‘LO series’ of Maglev trains. 

Lastly, here is a breakdown of JR Central’s future plan with the LO Maglev Trains:

Idea – It will be used on the Chuo Shinkansen railway line between Tokyo and Osaka.

Top speed record – A high speed record of 603 km/h (375 mph) by a manned superconductin Maglev train.

Estimated Duration of the journey

  • – 40 minutes (Tokyo to Nagoya)
  •  1 hour 7 minutes (Tokyo to Osaka)


  • Total train length (299 metres) 
  • Passenger capacity (728 passengers)

Therefore, the LO series aims to carry approximately 24 passengers in the end car (28 metres long) and 68 passengers in the intermediate cars (24.3 metres long).

4. France

The HSR Network: TGV and it’s World Records

The high speed network for the fastest high speed trains in France is known as ‘TGV – Train A Grande Vitesse, (French for High speed train).’ TGV 001, an experimental gas-turbine electric locomotive was built by Astrom and commissioned in 1969. It began testing in 1972.

  1. Current World Record (2007)- Most importantly, the french TGV, a commercial train on steel wheels holds the current world speed record of 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph). It was achieved on 3 April, 2007 on the new LGV Est which is an east european high speed line.
  1. Operations TGV and TGV 140 (1990)- A new world speed record of 515.3 km/h (320.3 mph) was established on 18 May, 1990 by these set of test programs.
  1. Operation TGV 100 (1981)- The TGV Sud-Est trainset set a record of 380 km/h (236 mph) just before the opening of LGV Sud-Est.
  1. TGV 001 (1972)- This experimental gas-turbine electric locomotive reached a top speed of 318 km/h (198 mph).

TGV: A combination of high technology and reduced travel times

The TGV trainset uses a set og advanced and high speed technology for it’s fastest high speed trains. Let us take a closer look at this aspect through the a compiled list of these adopted technologies: 

  • Electric Power – They draw energy from overhead catenary wires, which reduces the energy consumption.
  • Streamlined Design – They work at higher speeds than conventional networks because of their aerodynamic speeds that reduce the air resistance. 
  • Track Upgrades – The LGVs (dedicated high speed line) reduce the curves and gradients. 
  • In-Cab signaling – The use of advanced signaling them precise control and safety .
  • Distributed Traction – Multiple cars divide the traction which ensure efficient braking and acceleration. 

In addition to this, these fastest high speed trains provide the passengers with reduced travel times. For instance, the PAaris-Lyon route (a distance of 465 km, 289 miles) takes just 2 – 2.5 hours, compared to nearly 4 hours by the conventional trains. 

Lastly, TGV is the perfect example of how advanced technology can be used for shorter and smarter journeys, smarter travel and overall, a safe and more efficient transportation. 

Beyond the Top Three: Exploring Other Fastest High Speed Networks

4. Germany

The high speed network for fastest high speed trains in Germany is termed “ICE”, which is short for Intercity Express. Let us explore the top three fastest trains on this rail network. 

1. ICE 3 (Class 407)

Top Speed – Up to 320 km/h (199 mph)

Special Feature

  • Multi-system variant for international connections
  • Used for routes to and from France

2. ICE 3 (Class 403 and 406)

Top Speed – Up to 300 km/h (186 mph)

Special Feature

  • A true multiple-unit design with distributed traction across eight Carriages
  • Spacious interiors and elegantly designed dining car

3. ICE 1 (Class 401)

Top Speed – Up to 280 km/h (174 mph)

Special Feature

  • Fast, efficient and comfortable
  • Connects major German cities

5. Italy

ETR1000 “Frecciarossa” and its contribution to HSR in Italy

Commonly known as ETR 1000, this train is operated by Italian Railway state operator Trenitalia and the private Spanish high-speed rail operator Iryo.

Firstly, the design work for ETR 1000 began in 2008 inspired by products like Bombardier’s Zefiro and AnsaldoBreda’s V250 trains. It was made with the help of contributions and modifications from significant designers like Mike Robinson and Bertone. 

Secondly, it is designed to reach up to 400 km/h (250 mph) making it one of the fastest high speed trains in Europe. However, it operates at a speed of up to 300 km/h (190 mph) commercially. 

Thirdly, it is 662 feet and 9 inches long, with a width of 9 feet and 7.1 inches. ETR 1000 weighs 500 tons and is 13 feet and 5 inches tall.

Lastly, it has significantly helped the HSR in Italy by decarbonizing transportation. This is done by shifting passengers away from planes and cars and toward lower-emission rail travel. 

Your Next Adventure Awaits

Right from choosing between the dreading fast CRH380BL in China to the super energy saver ETR1000 in Italy, you can now make an informed decision while traveling and exploring. 

Consequently, we hope this blog kept you intrigued throughout. Because it contains facts on some of the fastest high speed trains in the world. 

Hence, it’s time to ditch the ordinary and adopt the extraordinary! What is your destination and choice of train? 

Vanshika Bhatnagar



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