Ever since the invention of the first rail road track all the way back in the 6th century BC, which was powered by slaves, train technology has certainly come a long way. Trains serve a variety of important purposes for mankind: they help haul goods and products to different parts of the world and transport individuals to wherever they wish to go, among others.
Like other forms of transportation, trains have continually been tailored and perfected to cater humans’ need for speed. With the help of modern technology, the great minds of today have made it possible to invent the world’s fastest trains.
Check out this quick list of the 10 fastest trains in the world:
1. MLX 01
With a cruising speed of 361 mph or 581 kph, the MLX 01 of Japan is undoubtedly the world’s fastest train. The MLX 01 actually broke the best record established for maglev vehicles when it surpassed the speed of what is considered the fastest for maglev trains: 310.7 mph or 500 kph.
As part of the Maglev Chuo Shinkansen Line, it makes use of maglev technology, wherein magnetic levitation–instead of the usual axeles, wheels, and bearings–is used to propel the train. While it is still not used for public transport, the promise of MLX 01’s breakneck speeds might pave the way to the replacement of Japan’s speedy bullet trains.
2. TGV Est V150
Although the world’s fastest train is run by maglev technology, Germany’s TGV Est V150 shows that conventional technology can still yield fast speeds. With its 25,000-horsepower engines and large wheels that go on top of the track, the TGV Est V150 can travel at a speed of 357.2 mph or 574.8 kph. This impressive speed record was established during a trip from Paris to Strasbourg.
The ML-500R once held the record as the fastest train in the world when it established a speed record of 321.2 mph or 517 kph in 1979. The speed was reflected during a test run at the 4.3-mile Miyazaki test track in Japan. Although this sample train was unmanned, it paved the way for the development of maglev technology trains that continue to break speed records all around the world.
4. Transrapid 08
Also known as the Shanghai maglev train, the Transrapid 08 has managed to etch its name in history books when it ran a speed of 311.3 mph or 501 kph in Germany’s Transrapid test facility. Seeing the potential of maglev trains, the Chinese government provided financial support for the development of the maglev rail line. The construction started in 2001 and was opened to the public the year after.
Since it is the only Transrapid train for public transportation, it is only in Shanghai, China that you may get to experience what it feels like to be on board the fastest train in the world.
5. Transrapid 07
The Transrapid 07 might be an experimental vehicle, but this two-train car proves that it is one of the world’s fastest trains after establishing a speed of 279.6 mph or 450 kph. It was in June 1993 when the Transrapid 07 accomplished this feat along the TVE test track in Hamburg, Germany.
This project sparked the interest in Maglev technology in Germany, however it was only in 2008 when the engineers decided to focus on Transrapid 07 and its sister models.
Shinkansen, or widely known as the bullet train, is a high-speed Japanese transportation system. Developed by the Japan Railways Group, this train zooms on traditional technology. Like Germany’s TGV Est V150, Shinkansen trains travel on conventional railroad tracks.
Despite its customary machinery and lack of modern innovations, the Shinkansen has managed to break the all-time record speed of 275 mph or 443 kph. While this is the maximum speed that you can experience aboard one of the fastest trains in the world in 2013, the most that Japanese commuters get is a safe speed of 186 mph or 300 kph.
The MLU002N is another one of the world’s fastest trains that hail from the country of Japan. This one-car model makes use of the proven and tested maglev technology and has managed to record a top speed of 267.8 mph or 431 kph in an unmanned test made in 1994.
As for the manned test, on the other hand, it registered an a speed of 255.4 mph or 411 kph for the 26.6-mile course from Sakaigawa to Akiyama. Although it has not been used as a means of public transportation, the MLU002N has been a trailblazer in the creation of newer and faster trains in Japan.
Before this train’s conceptualization, Jean Bertin of the Bertin Company of France made use of air and humongous jet engines to propel his train at breakneck speeds. With these technologies, Bertin has given birth to his brainchild–the Aerotrain.
The Aerotrain can be considered as the pioneering fastest train in the world, as it was in 1974 when it managed to run at a speed of 267.3 mph or 430.2 kph. Unfortunately, the project did not push through as the French government opted to invest money on maglev technology trains rather than the ones similar to the Aerotrain.
9. Transrapid 06
The Transrapid 06 is the third member from the Transrapid Company that has been included in the list of the fastest trains in the world in 2013. Considered as one of the oldest models, it was first tested in the year 1988 at the Transrapid Test Facility in Germany. During the test run, it yielded an impressive result of 256.4 mph or 412.6 kph. Needless to say, its speed records brought about the creation of the newer Transrapids models: 07 and 08.
10. ICE V
Also known as the InterCity Experimental train, ICE V is one of the world’s fastest trains that has ever been invented by the German government. The train is an ambitious project made to create a high-speed rail system throughout Europe. In 1988, the ICE V, measuring 372.1 feet long, registered a whopping speed of 252.8 mph or 406.9 kph. This impressive record resulted in the commissioning of ICE V for public usage in 1991. However, commuters do not enjoy this speed as they may have expected to, as the ICE V was intended to operate at a slower yet safer pace.
Train technology has indeed evolved by leaps and bounds since its first emergence nearly two centuries ago. We can only wonder how fast the next invention will be in the years to come.