How fast do high-speed rail systems run?

High-speed rail systems are not the world’s most popular form of transportation, but in some parts of the country, they are the preferred route. Learning more about high-speed rail systems, where they’re located, and how fast they go is fascinating – and it might even help you plan your next trip!

The speed of high-speed trains varies based on various factors such as the technology used, the terrain they travel over, the number of stops between stretches and the laws in their home countries. High-speed trains can typically reach speeds of about 190 mph to 220 mph, although average top speeds range from 120 mph to 160 mph. The Shanghai Maglev in China is the fastest high-speed train in the world and has a top speed of 286 miles per hour.

Countries with high speed rail systems

By 2023, there are many countries that offer high-speed passenger rail systems. They include Great Britain, China, Austria, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Poland, Japan, France, Germany, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey. Surprisingly, the US is nowhere on the list. Although passenger train travel is possible in the US, the rail lines that are popular here – namely Amtrak – are not considered high-speed compared to those offered in other countries.

The difference here is that all the countries listed here have invested heavily in their rail systems, and since those systems are inherently very safe, people continue to use them. Their popularity has exploded in these countries, and continued investment keeps them safe, funds new technologies, and makes the overall ride more comfortable and often faster for passengers.

That express

Explore some popular high speed rail lines

Shinkansen in Japan

The Tokaido Shinkansen opened in 1964, and not only ushered in a new era of travel for Japanese commuters, but also opened the door to high-speed rail travel around the world. The fact that the first high-speed rail opened in such a mountainous country made virtually anything seem possible, which is why many other nations followed suit in the decades after the Shinkansen.

To build the Shinkansen, engineers had to tunnel huge tunnels through the mountains, and build thousands of bridges from one pass to the next. Planning began in the 1940s, and the rail would run between Tokyo and Shiminoseki at a top speed of 120 mph. Building was halted during the war, but resumed in the 50s with a new plan to connect Tokyo with Osaka. When the line opened in 1964, passengers could travel between the two cities in half the time, and by 1976, they had a billion passengers under their belts. As of the time of writing, there have never been any casualties on Japan’s Shinkansen rail line.

TGV in France

The rail line was undoubtedly inspired by the success of the Shinkansen and the fact that France was already experimenting with aerotrains, which used air-cushion levitation. Although there were high hopes for the Aerotrain, it was later abandoned for more conventional high-speed rail. Their first iteration began testing in 1972 and was called the TGV 001, and set a record for fossil-fueled passenger trains at 198 mph.

Unfortunately, the sheer volume of fossil fuels required for France became too expensive, so they switched to electric trains powered by overhead lines. It was very popular with the French, and they found the ticket prices to be much cheaper than other high-speed train routes across the country. Ridership is increasing every year, and TGV is adding new lines to serve more destinations.

Ian Leach

CHR in China

China’s CHR is today the world’s largest high-speed rail network in terms of sheer mileage. The country’s system wasn’t truly up-to-speed until 2007, and since then, it has grown rapidly. CHR changed the way of life for many Chinese citizens, who struggled to travel across the country on other forms of public transportation. China began testing high-speed networks in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that modern high-speed rail travel gained any traction. This happened when Chinese government officials visited Japan and wanted reliability and efficiency similar to the Shinkansen system there.

China’s efforts accelerated in 1997, and they began with sub-high-speed lines that hit a maximum speed of 100 mph to 124 mph on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen railway. They later introduced a maglev system, which proved to be faster than their traditional trains. It can hit a top speed of 268 mph, and it can travel from the airport to the city center in just 7.5 minutes. Instead of expanding maglev technology, they brought traditional high-speed rail between Shanghai and Hangzhou. Implementing more Maglev routes was too expensive. Maglev is still the fastest passenger train in the world, and at just $10 a ticket, it’s affordable too.

Today, there are several dedicated high-speed lines throughout China, and it is a popular way of traveling among citizens. There are about 18,000 miles of high-speed track, and that will soon expand to more than 24,000 miles.

China is fast
Domingo Cauque

Germany’s Intercity Express

Germany’s high-speed rail system is called the Intercity Express, and it crosses several borders to serve citizens in France, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands. The system began shortly after the TGV in France, but did not get off the ground until 1985 due to political disagreements. In 1988, the rail line set a world record for fastest travel by hitting a top speed of 253 mph.

The service opened to the public in 1991 with ICE 1 trains, and operated with hourly service between the cities of Hamburg and Altoona. Later, they added several other lines to run north to south and east to west, connecting all major cities across the country and greatly improving the national economy.

Matt Spencer

Safety of high-speed rail travel

Despite the fact that the China Negev travels at speeds of 280+ miles per hour, hovering above the track, it is the safest form of travel in this country – and all other nations for that matter. It is also safer than flying internationally. More deaths were reported from airplane accidents than from rail accidents, even when adjusting for the start date of high-speed travel in different countries. There have been high-speed rail accidents, including a Catastrophic accident In Spain in 2013, a German accident in Eschede in 1988, and another accident in China in 2011 in which two trains collided, but compared to other forms of travel, it is the safest by a wide margin.

A National Safety Council review found that car riders and commuters are 10 times more likely to die than high-speed rail passengers. A 2011 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that between 1990 and 2011, 900,000 people died in car crashes on highways and roadways, compared to fewer than 15,000 in train collisions. . Services that are well managed and maintained, such as the bullet trains found throughout France and Japan, are incredibly safe – so safe, in fact, that ridership increases every year. In 40 years, no one has ever died as a result of a high-speed train accident in any country, and this is an impressive feat.

Advantages of High Speed ​​Rail System

While there are always those who argue that traveling at speeds over 100 miles per hour is never necessary, those who work daily on one of the many high-speed rail systems around the world They travel to disagree with them. The introduction of high-speed trains cut many journey times in half, and in some cases, by as much as 75 percent, allowing direct connections between many of these countries’ economic centers. We live in a world today where people will take advantage of the best opportunities for themselves and their families, even if it means a two-hour commute one way. Four hours a day equates to 20 hours a week of work, or almost a full day spent just commuting. If high-speed rail cuts that in half, people are getting a big chunk of their lives back. That extra 10 hours a week can mean the difference between doing well at work and being exhausted, or between spending time with your family or spending that time sleeping.

In countries where high-speed rail is a popular means of travel, it is one of the most economical ways to travel. A ticket to ride the Maglev in China costs just $10, and in some cases, the Maglev can make them work faster than flying. People can save a lot of money every year thanks to the affordability of high-speed rail travel, and that’s good news not only for these families, but for local economies as well. Less money spent on transportation means more money they can use to fuel other businesses and less reliance on the government-supported social welfare system.

Amtrak's longest route
On Amtrak’s high-speed Northeast Corridor, two Acela trains pass each other near Crum Lane, Pennsylvania. Note the raised curve, concrete ties, and tie clips.

Additionally, cost savings for individuals can be realized in everything from fuel economy to automobile maintenance. A family that can commute to work for $15 a day in fuel instead of driving to work for $10 a day saves a lot of money over the course of a year. What’s more, by drastically reducing the number of miles they put on their personal vehicles, there’s less maintenance to worry about, and it can save thousands a year. In fact, in many parts of Europe and Asia, automobile ownership is quite low due to the sheer availability of safe, efficient, and affordable public transportation.

Cities and urban areas also benefit from the introduction of high-speed rail. If a rail line stops in a downtown area, it will inevitably bring more people with it, and those people will spend money, whether at the boutique on the corner or the fast food restaurant down the street. I. In addition, there is a large reduction in dependence on fuel and oil, especially in European and Asian countries, where trains run on electricity. This saves entire nations money and makes them less dependent on their oil-rich neighbors – and that’s always a good thing.

The future of high speed rail

Americans are interested in all the benefits of high-speed rail, but by 2023, it may not exist in this country. Some train lines, such as the Amtrak Acela, can reach speeds of up to 150 mph, but these are very specific lines that only exist in one part of the country. High-speed rail travel has been debated in the United States for decades. It is interesting to note that in terms of freight trains, the US has a higher market share than its Asian and European friends. We use freight trains to transport goods across the country, but cannot agree on whether moving the people It is a good idea to use the exact same technologies used in China, Germany and Japan throughout the country.

Richard Dyke

It is true that the US infrastructure is in no condition for high-speed rail operation. There’s some construction here and there, but for the most part, the sheer investment it would take to connect cities across the country with high-speed rail is staggering. It would take decades to produce, and at a time when material costs are at an all-time high, many government officials are reluctant to begin. However, the long-term implications could be huge, especially if we implement high-speed rail for freight. The first. E-commerce is booming, and reconfiguring it to facilitate the growing demand for faster shipping could greatly improve the US economy.

As for bringing high-speed passenger rail to the United States, it’s not something anyone expects to see in the next half-century, despite its tremendous success in other nations. Perhaps one day when foreign oil is no longer a commodity, the need for electric high-speed train travel will outweigh the fear associated with large-scale operations.