Trains have always been a fascinating subject for everyone, right from one’s childhood. While playing with toy trains, every child dreams of taking a ride on the fastest trains in the world. It might be fascinating and rewarding to know about the top fastest bullet trains in the world.
The railway companies of the world may not have the resources and in-house facilities to manufacture such high speed trains. So they outsource it to renowned companies which have the technology to build such trains. There are only a handful of manufacturing companies that make the fastest bullet trains. Some of them are Hitachi Corporation, which is a renowned Japanese multinational company; Alstom, a French company; Siemens, a German company; Bombardier, a Canadian company and a few more. Often these companies form a consortium.
These companies make high speed trains, and often the same model with a few variations can be used on more than one railway network or company. Many minor website and blogs erroneously mention the very same high speed train model, used under different name by another railway network, as a different high speed trains. In this list, you will not find such errors. This list is researched from original sources and company websites.
Here is a list of Top 13 fastest trains in the world in 2021 that are in service. The race for the fastest trains is going on across all continents, from America to Europe and Asia. For your easy reference the running speed, and not the maximum speed; of the trains are mentioned in the subheading. The country, in which the train operates, is also mentioned alongside.
Table of Contents
- 13. Amtrak Acela Express, 150 mph or 241 kmph, USA
- 12. Hokuriku Shinkansen E7, 160 mph, 260 kmph, Japan
- 11. Deutsche Bahn ICE, 160 mph or 250 kmph, Germany
- 10. THSR 700T, 186.4 mph or 300 kmph, Taiwan
- 9. Trenitalia Frecciarossa 1000, 190 mph or 300 kmph, Italy
- 8. Eurostar e320, 200 mph, 320 kmph, UK-Europe
- 7. Alstom Euroduplex, 198.8 mph or 320 kmph, France
- 6. E5 Series Shinkansen Hayabusa, 200 mph or 320 kmph, Japan
- 5. Talgo 350, 217.4 mph or 350 kmph, Spain
- 4. Siemens Velaro AVS 103, 217.4 mph or 350 kmph, Spain
- 3. AGV Italo, 223.6 mph or 360 kmph, Italy
- 2. Harmony CRH 380A, 236 mph or 380 kmph, China
- 1. Shanghai Maglev, 267.8 mph or 431kmph, China
13. Amtrak Acela Express, 150 mph or 241 kmph, USA
The Amtrak Acela trains of USA runs at 150 mph. It started its services in 2000. The train’s network is limited to the “Northeast Corridor” connecting Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC., within seven hours. It is America’s only entry in the top league of fastest trains in the world.
12. Hokuriku Shinkansen E7, 160 mph, 260 kmph, Japan
Japanese were the first to develop the ‘bullet’ trains. It was so called not just because of its shape but it also alluded to the speed at which these trains run. In fact, Shinkansen in Japanese means bullet or fast trains. The Hokuriku Shinkansen E7 has a maximum speed of 275 kmph (170 mph), but its operating speed has been kept at 260 kmph (160 mph).
It is manufactured by Hitachi, J-TREC, and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. It was put on service on 15th March 2014 by East Japan Railway Company. The train has 12 cars. Car 12 having the Gran Class has full active suspension, and the other cars are equipped with semi-active suspension.
11. Deutsche Bahn ICE, 160 mph or 250 kmph, Germany
ICE stands for Inter-City Express. These trains are the fastest in Germany, and connect several cities. These trains are run by the German railway company Deutsche Bahn. There are several versions of the ICE trains which are in operation. ICE 4 is the brand name for long-distance Intercity-Express high-speed trains.
These high-speed trains are manufactured by Siemens and Bombardier Transportation.
10. THSR 700T, 186.4 mph or 300 kmph, Taiwan
THSR 700T is high speed multiple unit train operated by Taiwan High Speed Rail. These trains run at a speed of 186.4 mph. It started service on 5th January 2007 between Taipei City and Kaohsiung, cutting the travel time from four and half hours to just 90 minutes. It has 12 cars and features a multi-engine system wherein 9 out of the 12 cars provide power to the train.
Each THSR 700T train has a one business class with 66 seats and 11 standard class cars that can seat 923 passengers. These trains are built in Japan by a consortium of three major companies; Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Nippon Sharyo and Hitachi.
9. Trenitalia Frecciarossa 1000, 190 mph or 300 kmph, Italy
Trenitalia is Italy’s national train operator and their premier Frecciarossa 1000 high-speed trains operate on the main Turin-Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Naples route, and now also on several Milan routes like Milan-Venice.
Frecciarossa means “red arrow” and they have a current operational speed of 190 mph or 300 kmph. Their maximum speed is 220 mph or 360 kmph. During testing they have reached record speed of 250 mph or 400 kmph.
The Frecciarossa 1000 is also known as the ETR 1000. The train has been developed by AnsaldoBreda (now called Hitachi Rail Italy) and Bombardier Transportation. Rome to Milan now takes less than 3 hours; Rome to Florence takes less than one and a half hours. In future, this train will be operational on multiple European systems including the railways of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland.
8. Eurostar e320, 200 mph, 320 kmph, UK-Europe
The Eurostar e320 is considered the fastest train in UK and Europe. It runs at a speed of 200 mph. These trains run through the Channel Tunnel to serve destinations beyond the core routes to Paris and Brussels. Eurostar e320 are electric multiple unit high speed trains. They are upgraded version of the earlier Eurostar e300. On this train, passenger services were started in November 2015.
These trains are sixteen-carriage variants of the Siemens Velaro. It continues to be manufactured by Siemens. Every train has 16 cars and seating capacity of 902 passengers. It is made of light aluminium alloy body, and the train length is 400 meters.
7. Alstom Euroduplex, 198.8 mph or 320 kmph, France
The Euroduplex or SNCF TGV 2N2, is the fastest train service in France. It is operated by SNCF, the French national railway company and ONCF, the Moroccan national railway company. It is the third generation of the TGV Duplex bi-level train and succeeds the TGV Duplex Dasye. These trains are built by Alstom at Belfort and La Rochelle.
This train became operational on 11 December 2011. The TGV duplex train offers three classes of journey; standard, first and TGV Pro. All classes have luxury amenities. These trains have a capacity of 533 passengers. The Moroccan version has two first class carriages, five second class carriages, and a catering coach. The double-decker Euroduplex trains run at a speed of 198.9 mph or 320 kmph.
You may like to note that Thalys is an international high-speed train operator originally built around the LGV Nord high-speed line between Paris and Brussels. It runs TGV trains in collaboration with SNCF.
6. E5 Series Shinkansen Hayabusa, 200 mph or 320 kmph, Japan
The E5 series Shinkansen Hayabusa at 200 mph, is the fastest high speed train service in Japan. In Japanese Shinkasen means bullet train. This train was put in operation from 5th March 2011 by the East Japan Railway Company. The E5 Series Shinkansen Hayabusa is manufactured by a collaboration of Hitachi and Kawasaki Heavy Industries. During the trial the train reached a record speed of 400 kmph. The front of the train has a 15 meter long nose, which minimizes sound and vibration. The design is based on Fastech 360S high speed train developed by the East Japan Railway company.
E5 series train is operated between Tokyo and Shin Aomori. The distance is 444 miles and takes a little over 2 hours. It takes about four hours from Osaka to Tokyo. The train has 10 coaches and seats 731 passengers. Each E5 series Shinkansen has three seating classes, Gran, Green and Ordinary.
5. Talgo 350, 217.4 mph or 350 kmph, Spain
Talgo is a Spanish manufacturer of high speed passenger trains. Talgo 350 or T350 is a very high speed train developed by Patentes Talgo (Tren Articulado Ligero Goicoechea Oriol), a Spanish company. It is manufactured by the consortium of Patentes Talgo and Bombardier Transportation.
The train entered service with the name RENFE AVE Class 102 high speed trains, on the Madrid-Barcelona and Madrid-Valladolid lines in Spain. It is also known as Pato, meaning duck in Spanish, as the train’s front resembles the beak of a duck. The train has 2 driving cabins and 12 passenger cars, and the seating is divided into several classes such as Premium, business, first class etc.
4. Siemens Velaro AVS 103, 217.4 mph or 350 kmph, Spain
Renfe is the Spanish national railway company that operated the Alta Velocidad Española or AVE service, which is a service of high-speed rail in Spain. This network of high-speed rail is second only to China. Siemens manufactures the Velaro E train for Renfe’s AVE services. In Spain, Velaro trains are named as AVS 103. In July 2006 a Siemens Velaro train AVS 103 recorded a speed of 403.7 kmph (250.8 mph) during testing.
The Velaro E operates between Barcelona and Madrid at an operating speed of 217.4 mph. The travel time for 504 km distance is around two and a half hours. It also operates on several other routes connecting major cities. A trip from Barcelona to Paris takes just 6 hours. Velaro E has 8 passenger cars and it seats 404 passengers.
3. AGV Italo, 223.6 mph or 360 kmph, Italy
AVG Italo started its commercial service in 2007 and is the fastest train in operation in Europe. The train is manufactured by Alstom. Its operational speed is 223.6 mph, but during tests it recorded maximum speed of 356.6 mph. It operates between Rome and Naples, and covers the distance of 140 miles in less than an hour. It is a good example of Green Manufacturing and 98% of its parts are recyclable. A train rake has 11 coaches. There are three classes of seating; Club, Prima and Smart. All classes are equipped with premium luxury amenities which include plush leather seats, LCD displays, Wi-Fi etc.
2. Harmony CRH 380A, 236 mph or 380 kmph, China
CRH 380A trains were designed for continuous operating speed to be 350 km/h (217 mph), and maximum operating speed of up to 380 km/h (236 mph). It is based on unlicensed Shinkansen technology of Japan. The other three in the class; the CRH380B uses technology from Siemens, the CRH380C from Hitachi, and the CRH380D from Bombardier.
China Railways Harmony CRH 380A is the second fastest train service in the world. It has achieved a record speed of 486 kmph. It was inducted for regular service in October 2010 on the Shanghai to Nanjing route. It is now used by many regional railways of China for several other routes, like Shanghai to Hangzhou and Wuhan to Guangzhou.
It is manufactured by CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co. Ltd. which was formerly known as CSR Qingdao Sifang Locomotive & Rolling Stock Co. Ltd. (Some websites are still using the old name of the Co.). To reduce weight the coaches are made of aluminium alloy and lot of high-technology has been used to make it comfortable, reduce noise and vibration, and make it safer. It can carry 494 passengers. There are several classes of seating such as Premier, Business, First and Second class. It has all luxury amenities in the train.
1. Shanghai Maglev, 267.8 mph or 431kmph, China
Shangai Maglev is the world’s fastest train. It has a maximum operating speed of 267.8 mph or 431 kmph. Its average running speed is 250 kmph. It is a Maglev train, which means it runs on a special track and glides on magnetic fields created on the track. Maglev stands for Magnetic Levitation. There are no wheels, no axles, no gear transmissions and no steel rails. The system is developed and marketed by Transrapid International, a joint venture of Siemens and ThyssenKrupp, which are the top mass-transportation companies.
This service has been made operational on 1st January 2004, by Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Co. And is the only operational Maglev train service in the world. The train reaches its maximum speed in just 4 minutes. It runs from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport to the Longyang metro station. It covers the distance of 19 miles in just 7 minutes. Its frequency of operation is every 15 minutes. The train can carry 574 passengers. A trip costs $8. Shanghai Maglev represents the change and progress in technology.
Hope you enjoyed reading about these fastest bullet trains that are running in some cities or countries near you. The fastest train scene is very dynamic and competitive. Many of these trains will be superseded by faster trains in near future. Many developing countries which are vast in land area, like India, Brazil, Argentina and many more are looking at high speed trains as a viable and sustainable alternative to air travel. There will be many faster trains in many countries in future. If you are keenly interested in trains, you may like to board any of these trains you fancy, before they are overtaken by faster trains in future.