Tuesday, 05. February 2008
10 World's Fastest Trains
Last week I searched for 'fast trains' and found a lot of good stuff.
Let's see what I'm talking about and what I got. Not only for train enthusiasts ...
I hope you will enjoy the selection. Here we go:
They are getting bigger, better and faster than ever. Around the world, high-speed train systems are on the move. E.g. in China, you can ride between Shanghai Airport and downtown on a futuristic magnetic levitation (maglev) train that jets along at 267 mph. The ride takes less than eight minutes. Well have a look at the 10 bullet trains from Shanghai to Spain!
Shinkansen Trains (Japan)
Japan pioneered high-speed rail travel in 1964 when the Tokaido Shinkansen began passenger service between Tokyo and Osaka. The first bullet trains took four hours to make the trip, but the latest generation of N700 shinkansen trains have a top speed of 186 mph and can make the journey in two hours and 25 minutes. According to Japan Railways Group, the lightening-fast network has carried more than six billion passengers in its 40-plus years of service. Japan also set the current world-record speed for rail in 2003 when its experimental MLX01 maglev (magnetic levitation) train attained a speed 361 mph.
For more information and pictures: Byun Byun Shinkansen, a comprehensive guide.
Train à Grande Vitesse (France)
France loves its TGV (train à grande vitesse, French for "high-speed train"). Like an earth-bound Concorde, the über-brisk Train à Grande Vitesse set the record as the world’s fastest wheeled train when it zoomed to 357 mph on a test run in April 2007. (Usually, the TGV whisks passengers around France at a still speedy 200 mph.) In the '60s and '70s, France also experimented with a high-speed hovercraft train called the Aérotrain that was itself capable of reaching an impressive 267 mph.
For more information and pictures: TGVweb, a comprehensive guide but not an official site. (If you like go to official TGV site.)
Alta Velocidad Española (Spain)
Alongside the amazing food of El Bulli and the spellbinding architecture of Calatrava, Spain can also boast one of the best high-speed rail systems in the world. The nationwide network connects Spain’s largest cities, with its sleek Alta Velocidad Española trains zipping back and forth at speeds reaching 217.5 mph. Currently, Spain is tunneling through five miles of the Pyrenees mountains to build a high-speed rail line between Barcelona and the French border.
For more information: AVE official site at the RENFE (Spanish)
Shanghai Maglev Train (China)
In April 2007, China upgraded more than 3,728 miles of its rail network to carry trains that soar up to 124 mph, creating what is now the largest high-speed rail system in the world. The giant Asian nation has also earned bragging rights for its Shanghai Maglev (magnetic levitation) Train, which, manufactured by Germany’s Bombardier company, whisks passengers from the Shanghai airport to a downtown station in under eight minutes, traveling at speeds of 267 mph. Shanghai is currently planning the largest railroad station in Asia - 14 million square feet of space spread over five stories.
For more information: Pictures and technical Info about the Shanghai Transrapid Maglev.
KTX Rail System (South Korea)
South Korea’s KTX high-speed rail system was launched in 2004, cutting travel time between Seoul and Daejeon to just 49 minutes. While the 186-mph KTX was based on French TGV technology, Korea is close to debuting a homegrown, high-speed aluminum train called the G7 that would be capable of running at speeds of 217.5 mph. Looking even further ahead, Korea hopes to bring its next-generation of trains—the 248.5-mph Highspeed Electric Multiple Unit (HEMU) - online by 2011.
For more information: Korea Train eXpress
Taiwan High Speed Rail (Taiwan)
It may be a relatively small island nation, but that doesn’t mean Taiwan’s travelers aren’t up to speed. The Taiwan High Speed Rail (THSR) can zoom from Taipei City in the north to southernmost Kaohsiung City at speeds of up to 186 mph - a journey that takes just 90 minutes, one-third the time of a conventional train trip. THSR chose to base its system on the Japanese shinkansen, in part because Japan had built its network to cope with earthquake risks that also affect Taiwan. The private system has already carried 10 million passengers since opening earlier this year.
For more information: Taiwan High Speed Rail Photogallery on Flickr and Taiwan High Speed Rail official website.
Although Germany did not deploy its InterCityExpress (ICE) high-speed trains until 10 years after France’s TGV hit the rails, the country has made up for lost time. The third-generation ICE trains currently in service can whisk passengers from Dresden to Düsseldorf at speeds of 205 mph; and the system is integrated into the rail networks of neighboring Belgium, the Netherlands and France. Meanwhile, Germany continues to develop its Transrapid maglev (magnetic levitation) train, which has clocked speeds of 342 mph in testing.
For more information: ICE-Fanpage, Private fansite (German), Photos: The Railfaneurope Picture Gallery and ICE by Deutsche Bahn AG (German).
A shining, speeding symbol of the fruits of international cooperation, the Eurostar partnership continues to strengthen links among England, France and Belgium. In September 2007, the opening of new tracks in England allowed Eurostar to set speed records for travel between London and the continent. Travelers can now hop from London to Brussels in just one hour and 43 minutes (moving at 186 mph), or London to Paris in just over two hours. Eurostar passengers have the added bonus of arriving in London at the newly renovated Century St. Pancras station, a masterpiece of Victorian architecture and engineering that practically glows after its $1.65 billion restoration.
For more information: Eurostar official website (check the destination guides) and Eurostar - For Tomorrow
Treno Alta Velocità (Italy)
The Italians introduced high-speed rail travel to Europe back in 1978 with the Direttissima, which shuttled between Rome and Florence at a molto rapido speed of 158 mph. These days, Italy’s Treno Alta Velocità SpA company is moving full speed ahead to create a newer, faster rail network. In 2005, the line between Rome and Naples began carrying passengers at 186 mph. A second line capable of the same speed opened next between Turin and Milan. Engineers are working on extending Italy’s high-speed networks across international borders into neighboring France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia.
For more information and pictures: TAV official website.
Acela Express (USA)
The Acela Express, currently the only high-speed rail line in the U.S., operating between Washington, D.C. and Boston via Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in the Northeast United States. Acela Express trains are the only true high-speed trainsets in the United States. This has made the trains very popular, and by some reckoning, Amtrak has captured over half of the market share of travelers between Washington and New York. Outside of stations, Acela runs at speeds between 75 mph (120 km/h) and 150 mph (241 km/h), depending on track conditions. On the average, it is significantly slower than most other high-speed trains elsewhere in the world.
For more information: Acela Express official website.