Geographies in Depth

These are the world’s fastest trains

A high-speed bullet train linking Baoji and Lanzhou is pictured during a test run in Shaanxi province, China, May 16, 2017. Picture taken May 16, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA. - RC147821BCA0

China is estimated to have spent $360 billion on high-speed rail. Image: REUTERS/Stringer

Charlotte Edmond
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At 350 km/h, China’s new Fuxing trains have become the world’s fastest bullet trains, shaving an hour off the 1318 km journey between Shanghai and Beijing.

The new trains put China back in the lead for the fastest trains in operation. Following a fatal crash in 2011, China had reduced the speed of its super-fast train service from the then world’s fastest 350 km/h to 250-300 km/h.

However, while such speeds are no doubt impressive, Japan still holds the world record. With a top speed of 603 km/h in testing, Japan’s SCMaglev train puts others in the shade. Its standard maximum operating speed is however slower than the Fuxing trains at 320 km/h.

France’s TGV also has the capacity to hit greater speeds (575 km/h), but is likewise limited to 320 km/h in normal operation.

Image: REUTERS/Jason Lee

India has now announced plans to join the bullet train game. Work has started on the high-speed line between Gujarat to Mumbai, which is expected to open by 2022.

At speeds of up to 350 km/h, it will cut journey times from eight to just three hours.

The $19 billion project will be partly funded by a Japanese loan.

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Fuxing trains run around 50 km/h faster than China’s current fastest Hexie trains, which are restricted to 300 km/h. Although Fuxing trains are capable of hitting speeds of 400 km/h, their speed will also be capped.

Image: Statista

According to state-owned operator China Railway, around 600 million passengers travel on the Beijing-Shanghai line annually. Opened in 2011, the line is said to be one of the most profitable in China, bringing in an estimated 6.6 billion yuan (about $1 billion) in 2015.

The country, which is estimated to have spent $360 billion on high-speed rail, has around 22,000 km of high-speed rail network; the longest in the world and about 60% of the world’s total.

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