When it comes to travelling, planes are often the most efficient way to traverse long distances. But in some places such as Europe, travelling by train is actually faster. Which makes sense – hopping on a flight usually involves getting to the airport, checking in and going through security checks, which can take a couple of hours. Train stations are usually within or near the city center, and you don’t have to arrive two hours early to check-in and get through security.
Other places like China and Japan are also famous for their train infrastructure. As you will see, some of the fastest trains in the world are here! In fact, Japan is now testing a maglev line from Tokyo to Osaka at commercial speeds of 500 km/h. You can’t ride that one just yet, but there are more than a few bullet trains that can speed up travelling time. Here are the fastest trains in the world!
1. Chuo Shinkansen, Japan
This Japanese maglev line is under construction between Tokyo and Nagoya, with plans for extension to Osaka. The line is expected to connect Tokyo and Nagoya in 40 minutes, as well as eventually Tokyo and Osaka in just 67 minutes. The first segment (Tokyo–Nagoya) is set to open in 2027, while the Nagoya–Osaka section is planned to be completed in 2037. When completed, the train will run at a maximum speed of 500 km/h!
2. Shanghai Maglev Train, China
The Shanghai Maglev Train is the world’s first commercial high-speed maglev. Right now, it is the fastest commercial train in the world with peak speeds of 431 km/h. Connecting Shanghai Pudong International Airport with Longyang Road Station in the outskirts of central Pudong, the train makes the 30.5 km trip in less than 7.5 minutes!
3. Beijing–Shanghai high-speed railway, China
Apart from the fastest maglev, China also has the fastest conventional high-speed rail in regular operation. It reaches up to 350 km/h, making the 1,302 km trip from Beijing South to Shanghai Hongqiao in just 4 hour 18 minutes. Compared to 9 hours and 49 minutes on the conventional trains, that’s a huge difference. Apart from being one of the fastest trains in the world, this is also one of the world’s busiest high speed railways and China’s most profitable high speed rail line.
4. KTX-Sancheon, South Korea
Reaching a top speed of 330 km/h, The KTX-Sancheon serves several KTX train lines in South Korea. The train can accelerate from 0 to 300 km/h (0 to 186 mph) in 316 seconds. The most popular route connects Seoul and Busan, but there are also five other major routes starting in Seoul: Gyeongbu, Honam, Gyeongjeon, Jeolla, and Gangneung lines. It used to take more than 4 hours to get to Busan from Seoul. But with KTX-Sancheon, the time cuts to 2 hours and 15 minutes. We should also mention that its title will be toppled by EMU-260/320 when they enter into service very soon, with a planned service speed of 370 km/h!
5. Frecciarossa 1000, Italy
Frecciarossa 1000 is the fastest train in Europe. It can reach up to 400km/h, but it is limited to 300 km/h as this is the maximum permitted speed on the Italian high-speed network. Serving Trenitalia’s high-speed network, the train has transformed land travel between Italy’s densely populated major cities since it entered service in 2015. Journey times have been cut dramatically, and the fleet has helped transport 350 million people. The fleet is now expanding beyond Italy to France and Spain.
6. Nozomi, Japan
Nozomi is the fastest bullet train that runs on the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen lines in Japan. The service stops at only the largest stations, and along the stretch between Shin-Ōsaka and Hakata. It reaches speeds of up to 300 km/h on the Sanyo Shinkansen Line and 285 km/h on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line. This shinkansen is also the only service not covered by the Japan Rail Pass, so you’ll have to purchase separate tickets for a ride on this train.
7. Haramain Western Railway, Saudi Arabia
This Mecca–Medina high-speed railway stretches 453 kilometers between Saudi Arabia’s most holy cities and has been in operation since 2018. Designed for a top speed of 299 km/h, traveling the route now only takes two and a half hours, compared to five hours by car. The railway carries tens of millions passengers a year, including three to four million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims.