Who’s Got the Fastest Train in the World?

Most people would probably guess the bullet train in Japan or the TGV in France. Nope, the fastest train in the world is in China. It runs from Shanghai’s International Airport into Pudong where passengers can transfer to a subway that will take them into the center of Shanghai.

The Chinese train runs at a maximum speed of 268 mph, although it’s at top speed for only a short while since it’s just an 18 mile trip. Total time, start to finish? Eight minutes!

Yes, it’s really fast, but what makes this train so interesting is the maglev technology. It literally rides on air, using electromagnetic force to suspend it just above the guideway.

By contrast, in most parts of the U.S., Amtrak can only run at a maximum speed of 79 mph over track that is owned by freight railroads. Amtrak does own the tracks on the Northeast Corridor from Washington through New York and on up to Boston, but their Acela trains only top out at 125 mph. Even so, it’s by far the best way to travel between those cities.

The fact is, when it comes to rail travel — especially high-speed rail — we have a lot of catching up to do.