Top 10 Most Performant High-Speed Rail Trains of the World

These 10 trains cover hundreds of miles in few hours! The rankings show that European and Asian countries dominate in the race of operating high-speed rail network.
Kashyap Vyas
Shanghai Maglev Train, China.Alex Needham/Wikimedia Commons

There are trains which are super-fast, covering large distances in a matter of few hours. Even more, these high-speed rail trains move so smoothly over the tracks that you won’t even realize that you’re traveling at such fast speeds. The highest operating speed achieved so far by such trains is 267.8 mph, cutting an 8-hour journey to just 3 hours.


While European and Asian countries are leading the high-speed rail train race, more countries are joining the bullet train game. India recently announced the plans to install a high-speed line connecting two major states. The project has already started and the line is expected to open by 2022.

While China’s Shanghai Maglev currently holds the record of fastest train in the world, let’s look at 10 high-speed rail trains of the world according to their rankings. Note that the rankings are according to the train’s operating speed and not the record speed.

YHT (Turkey) – 155.34mph

Top 10 Most Performant High-Speed Rail Trains of the World
Source: B'Tian Denizcan P. Dorsam/Wikimedia Commons

Yüksek Hızlı Tren (High-Speed Train) is a high-speed rail service from the Turkish State Railways and is the only high-speed rail service in the country. The trains operate at speeds of up to 250km/h (155.34mph) connecting major cities. Two lines operate between Ankara to Istanbul via Eskişehir and Ankara to Konya via Polatlı. The trains cover a distance of over 150 miles in less than two hours. YHT has three classes – first, business and economy with an on-board café and entertainment facilities.

THSR 700T (Taiwan) - 186.41mph

Top 10 Most Performant High-Speed Rail Trains of the World
Source: Rsa/Wikimedia Commons

THSR 700T is an electric high-speed trainset developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Nippon Sharyo and Hitachi Ltd. for THSR (Taiwan High Speed Rail) line. The train service was first started in 2007 between Taipei City and Kaohsiung cutting the journey time from four and half hours to just 90 minutes. The train features a multi-engine system, wherein 9 out of 12 soundproof cars provide power to the train. Today, 30 trains operate under THSR and each train has one business class and 11 standard class cars. 

KTX (South Korea) – 190mph

Top 10 Most Performant High-Speed Rail Trains of the World
Source: Minseong Kim/Wikimedia Commons

The Korea Train Express (KTX) is a high-speed rail system owned by Korail. The super-fast train operates from Incheon International Airport with stops at Seoul Station, Yongsan Station towards Busan and Gwangju, and from Gangnam District's Suseo Station with intermediate stations in New Dongtan City and Seoul Subway Line 1's Jije Station in Pyeongtaek. Although the infrastructure is designed for 217mph, the service speed of the train is capped at 190mph. Travelling by KTX is not only fast but also affordable. Korail offers great discounts on advance booking and special prices for children.

TGV Duplex (France) – 200mph

Top 10 Most Performant High-Speed Rail Trains of the World
Source: Alaric Favier/Wikimedia Commons

TGV Duplex was launched in 2011 and is one of the fastest train services in France. Operated by SNCF railway company, the train can reach top speeds of up to 200mph. TGV has a seating capacity of 508 passengers, connecting important cities of the country. The construction of the train is mainly composed of Aluminum. 90% of the parts are recyclable, making it light and eco-friendly, as well as one of the most comfortable trains within the Europe.

DeutscheBahn ICE (Germany) – 205mph

Top 10 Most Performant High-Speed Rail Trains of the World
Source: calflier001/Wikimedia Commons

The Intercity-Express or ICE is a high-speed train system that operates in Germany and surrounding countries. ICE is a flagship of Deutsche Bahn and there are currently more than 250 trainsets in use. With the capability to reach top speeds of up to 205mph, ICE trains are equally comfortable. All cars are fully air-conditioned with each seat featuring a headphone jack that allows a passenger to listen to the on-board music and voice programs. There’s also an electronic display above each seat to indicate the locations between which the seat is reserved.

AVE (Spain) – 217mph

Top 10 Most Performant High-Speed Rail Trains of the World
Source: Mikel Ortega/Wikimedia Commons

Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) is a high-speed rail service in Spain operated by Renfe. These high-speed trains operate on a 3,100km of track, running at speeds of up to 217mph. The train connects important cities within Spain. It takes less than 3 hours to travel from Madrid to Barcelona with the AVE service. The trains also have facilities such as on-board bar, café and children’s play area.

Frecciarossa 1000 (Italy) – 220mph

Top 10 Most Performant High-Speed Rail Trains of the World
Source: Björn König/Wikimedia Commons

Frecciarossa 1000 is one of the high-speed trains developed by AnsaldoBreda and Bombardier Transportation. Currently, these trains are operated by Trenitalia along multiple lines and have the capability to achieve high-speed of 220mph. The train can carry 485 passengers in four different classes – executive, business, premium and standard. The executive class features a meeting room, while the business and premium compartments have lounges.

NTV Alstom AGV 575 (Italy) – 220mph

Top 10 Most Performant High-Speed Rail Trains of the World
Source: Peter Broster/Wikimedia Commons

AGV 575 is another high-speed train designed and built by Alstom. Currently, the only customer of this train is the Italian company, NTV (Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori) which provides the Italo service on Naples and Milan rail lines. The train makes use of permanent-magnet synchronous motors that provide high energy efficiency. It includes features for passengers such as internet connectivity, TV and cinema in three different classes.

Harmony CRH380A (China) – 236mph

Top 10 Most Performant High-Speed Rail Trains of the World
Source: Jucember/Wikimedia Commons

Harmony CRH380 is the second fastest train in the world, achieving speeds of up to 236mph. The train was put to service in 2010 by China railways between Shanghai-Nanjing route. Harmony CRH380 is made up of low weight aluminum alloy and can carry 495 passengers. The fish-shaped head helps in reducing the aerodynamic forces and in turn enables the train to achieve higher speeds. The compartments are vibration-free and are equipped with facilities like a reading lamp, power socket and electronic display.

Shanghai Maglev Train (China) – 268mph

China’s Shanghai Maglev train tops the list of fastest trains in the world. The train takes just 7 minutes to cover the distance of 19 miles from Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport to the Longyang metro station using the magnetic levitation (Maglev) technology. Shanghai Maglev is built by Siemens and ThyssenKrupp and is the only commercially operated Maglev in the world. The super-fast train can carry 574 passengers and operate between every 15 minutes. Also, traveling on this train isn’t that expensive. One ticket costs $8 and if you need a VIP ticket for the seven-minute ride, it will cost you $16.

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