Visualizing the World's Fastest Trains
Trains have been a driving cultural force since the development of the steam engine in 1802.
Steam trains, invented in Britain during the height of the Industrial Revolution, provided the empire an unrivaled edge in carrying goods and people. It quickly expanded around the globe as other countries sought to develop their own railway networks to support growth and trade.
However, as countries pushed to create more railroads, they also attempted to develop quicker trains. In 1964, Japan's Tokaido Shinkansen, or "bullet train," became the world's first high-speed rail line, reaching speeds of more than 200 km/h.
How do other nations and railroads fare in comparison? Let's take a look at the world's fastest trains using data from Travel and Leisure magazine.
Who Has the World's Fastest Trains?
Japan spearheaded the high-speed rail revolution, and it remains at the top of the rankings. Though the country's fastest regular running bullet trains (the N700A Shinkansen) can achieve 186 mph or 300 km/h, the country's latest magnetic levitation (maglev) research is surpassing speed records.
Indeed, the world's top two fastest trains are maglev, which use two sets of magnets to raise the train and drive it ahead without friction to slow it down.
Japan's L0 Series Maglev is still in development, but it has the world's fastest train with a land speed record of 374 mph or 602 km/h.
China's Fastest Trains Are Trying to Pass Japan
China, which already has the world's longest high-speed train network and is spending massively in infrastructure, is putting Japan to the test.
The Shanghai Maglev, which links the city core to the international airport, is already in operating in China. The country's most recent train, which debuted in July 2021, had a top speed of 373 mph (600 km/h).
The new maglev train was introduced as the fastest functioning train in the world when it enters full production. However, until full operation starts, its test speed record remains lower than that of the L0 Series.
In fact, China boasts half of the world's top eight fastest trains. Asia, which includes Japan and South Korea, accounts for the majority of high-speed rail networks and record speeds.
But it isn't all maglevs and Asian domination. Conventional electric trains in Europe also made the list, with the TGV POS in France and the Frecciarossa 1000 in Italy hitting speeds of 357 mph (575 km/h) and 245 mph (394 km/h, respectively).
From Visual Capitalist