High-speed rail is a type of rail transport that operates significantly faster than traditional rail traffic, using an integrated system of specialized rolling stock and dedicated tracks. The first such system began operations in Japan in 1964 and was widely known as the bullet train. High-speed trains normally operate on standard gauge tracks of continuously welded rail on grade separated right-of-way that incorporates a large turning radius in its design.
Since 1964 many countries in addition to Japan have developed high-speed rail to connect major cities (e.g. China, France, Germany, Italy, ROC (Taiwan), Turkey, South Korea and Spain). As of 2012[update] the maximum commercial speed on most high-speed rail lines was about 300 km/h (185 mph).
While high-speed rail is usually designed for passenger travel, some high-speed systems also offer freight service. For instance, the French mail service La Poste owns a few special TGV trains for carrying postal freight.
Multiple definitions for high-speed rail are in use worldwide.
- The European Union Directive 96/48/EC, Annex 1 defines high-speed rail as a set of three elements with precise criteria:
- Infrastructure: track built specially for high-speed travel or specially upgraded for high-speed travel.
- Rolling stock:' Minimum speed of 250 km/h (155 mph) on lines specially built for high speed and 200 km/h (124 mph) on existing lines which have been specially upgraded.
- Operating conditions: Rolling stock must be designed alongside its infrastructure for complete compatibility, safety and quality of service.
- The International Union of Railways (UIC) prefers to use "definitions" (plural) because they consider that there is no single standard definition of high-speed rail, nor even standard usage of the terms ("high speed", or "very high speed"). They make use of the European EC Directive 96/48, insisting that high speed is a combination of all the elements which constitute the "system": infrastructure, rolling stock and operating conditions.
- Various United States jurisdictions use different definitions:
- The United States Code defines high-speed rail as services "reasonably expected to reach sustained speeds of more than 125 mph (200 km/h)",
- The Federal Railroad Administration uses a definition of top speeds at 90 mph (145 km/h) and above.
- The Congressional Research Service uses the term "higher speed rail" for speeds up to 150 mph (240 km/h) and "very high speed rail" for the rail on dedicated tracks with speeds over 150 mph (240 km/h).
It must be noted, as the International Union of Railways insists, that high-speed rail is a set of unique features, not merely a train travelling above a particular speed. Many conventionally hauled trains, in different parts of the world, are able to reach 200 km/h in commercial service, but are not considered to be high-speed trains, such as the French SNCF Intercités or German DB IC.
Railways were the first form of rapid land transportation and had an effective monopoly on passenger traffic until the development of the motor car and airliners in the early-mid 20th century. Speed had always been an important factor for railroads and they constantly tried to achieve higher speeds and decrease journey times. Rail transportation in the late 19th Century was not much slower than non high-speed trains today and many railroads regularly operated relatively fast express trains which averaged speeds of around 100 km/h (62 mph).
Early research 
First experiments 
High-speed rail development began in Germany in 1899 when the Prussian state railway joined with ten electrical and engineering firms and electrified 27 kilometres (17 mi) of military owned railway between Marienfelde and Zossen. The line used three-phase current at 10 kilovolts and 45 Hz.
The Van der Zypen & Charlier company of Deutz, Cologne built two railcars, one fitted with electrical equipment from Siemens-Halske, the second with equipment from Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG), that were tested on the Marienfelde–Zossen line during 1902 and 1903.
On 23 October 1903, the S&H-equipped railcar achieved a speed of 206.7 km/h (128.4 mph) and on 27 October the AEG-equipped railcar achieved 210.2 km/h (130.6 mph).
These trains demonstrated the feasibility of electric high-speed rail however regularly scheduled electric high-speed rail travel was still more than 30 years away.
Early German high-speed network 
On May 15, 1933, the Deutsche Reichsbahn-Gesellschaft company introduced the diesel-powered "Fliegender Hamburger" in regular service between Hamburg and Berlin, thereby establishing the fastest regular service in the world, with a regular top speed of 160 km/h.
This train was a streamlined multi-powered unit, albeit diesel, and used Jakobs bogies some 47 years before the advent of the TGV.
Following the success of the Hamburg line, the steam-powered Henschel-Wegmann Train was developed and introduced in June 1936 for service from Berlin to Dresden, with a regular top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph).
Further development allowed the usage of these "Fliegenden Züge" (flying trains) on a rail network across Germany. The "Diesel-Schnelltriebwagen-Netz" had been in the planning since 1934 but it never reach its envisaged size.
And in August 1939, shortly before the breakout of the war, all high speed service stopped.
The American Streamliners 
On 26 May 1934, one year after Fliegender Hamburger introduction, the Burlington Railroad's set an average speed record on long distance with their new streamlined train, the Zephyr, at 124 km/h (77 mph) with peaks at 185 km/h (115 mph). The Zephyr is made of stainless steel, and like the Fliegender Hamburger, is diesel powered, articulated with Jacob bogies, and can reach 160 km/h (99 mph) as commercial speed.
The Italian electric and the last steam record 
The German high speed service was followed in Italy in 1938 with an electric-multiple-unit ETR 200, designed for 200 km/h, between Bologna and Naples. It too reached 160 km/h in commercial service, and achieved a world mean speed record of 203 km/h (126 mph) near Milan in 1938.
In Great Britain in the same year, the streamlined steam locomotive Mallard achieved the official world speed record for steam locomotives at 125.88 mph (202.58 km/h).
The external combustion engines and boilers on steam locomotives were large, heavy and time consuming to maintain, and the days of steam for high speed were numbered.
The birth of Talgo system 
In 1945 a Spanish engineer, Alejandro Goicoechea, developed a streamlined articulated train able to run on existing tracks at higher speeds than contemporary passenger trains. This was achieved by providing the locomotive and cars with a unique axle system that used one axle set per car end, connected by a Y-bar coupler. Amongst other advantages, the centre of mass was only half as high as usual. This system becomes famous under the name of Talgo (Tren Articulado Ligero Goicoechea Oriol), and is today the main Spanish provider of high-speed trains.
The first very-high-speed records 
In the early 1950s, the French National Railway started to receive their new powerful CC 7100 electric locomotives, and began to study and evaluate running at very high speeds. In 1954, the CC 7121 hauling a full train achieved a record 243 km/h during a test on standard track.
The next year, two specially tuned electric locomotives, the CC 7107 and the prototype BB 9001, broke previous speed records, reaching respectively 320 km/h and 331 km/h, again on standard track.
For the first time, the 300 km/h was surpassed, allowing the idea of feasibility of very high-speed services.
New engineering studies began for this purpose. Especially, during the 1955 records, very dangerous hunting oscillation, the swaying of the bogies which at high speed leads to dynamic instability and potential derailment, were discovered, and led to the use of yaw dampers to solve this problem, enabling safe running speeds above 300 km/h today. Important researches was also to made about "current harnessing" at high-speed by the pantographs, that were solved 20 years later by the Zébulon TGV's prototype.
Breakthrough: The Shinkansen 
Japanese research and development 
With some 45 million people living in the densely populated Tokyo-to-Osaka corridor, congestion on road and rail became a serious problem after World War II, and the Japanese government began thinking seriously about a new high speed rail service.
Japan in the 1950s was a populous, resource-limited nation that for security reasons did not want to import petroleum, but needed a way to transport its millions of people in and between cities.
Japanese National Railways (JNR) engineers then began to study the development of a high-speed regular mass transit service. In 1955, they were present in France at the Lille's Electrotechnology Congress, and during a 6-month visit, the lead engineer of JNR accompanied the deputy director Marcel Tessier at the DETE (SNCF Electric traction study department). JNR engineers came back to Japan with many ideas and technologies they would use on their future trains: 50 Hz alternating current for rail traction, international standard gauge, and others.
The first narrow-gauge Japanese high-speed service 
In 1957, the engineers at local private Odakyu Electric Railway in Greater Tokyo area launched the Odakyū 3000 series SE EMU. This EMU set a world record for narrow gauge trains at 145 km/h (90 mph), giving the Odakyu engineers confidence they could safely and reliably build even faster trains at standard gauge. The original Japanese railways used narrow gauge, but the increased stability offered by widening the rails to standard gauge would make very high-speed rail much simpler, and thus standard gauge was adopted for high-speed service.
A new train on a new line 
The new service, named Shinkansen (meaning new trunk line) would run on new, 25% wider standard gauge, continuously welded rails between Tokyo and Osaka using new rolling stock, designed for 250 km/h. However, the World Bank, whilst supporting the project, considered the design of the equipment as unproven for that speed, and set the maximum speed to 210 km/h.
After initial feasibility tests, the plan was fast-tracked and construction of the first section of the line started on 20 April 1959. In 1963, on the new track, tests runs hit a top speed of 256 km/h (159 mph). Five years after the beginning of the construction work, in October 1964, just in time for the Olympic Games, the first modern high speed rail, the Tōkaidō Shinkansen, was opened between the two cities.
The first Shinkansen trains, the 0 Series Shinkansen, built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries—in English often called "Bullet Trains", after the original Japanese name Dangan Ressha (弾丸列車)—outclassed the earlier fast trains in commercial service. They ran the 515 km (320 mi) distance in 3 hours 10 minutes, reaching a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph) and sustaining an average speed of 162.8 km/h (101.2 mph) with stops at Nagoya and Kyoto.
A great success 
But the speed was only a part of the Shinkansen revolution: the Shinkansen offered high-speed rail travel to the masses. The first Bullet trains had 12 cars and later versions had up to 16, and double-deck trains further increased the capacity.
After three years, more than 100 million passengers had used the trains, and the milestone of the first one billion passengers was reached in 1976. In 1972 the line was extended a further 161 km (100 mi), and further construction has resulted in the network expanding to 2,387 km (1,483 mi) as at March 2013, with a further 776 km (482 mi) of extensions currently under construction and due to open in stages between March 2015 and 2035. The cumulative patronage on the entire system since 1964 is over 10 Billion, the equivalent of ~150% of the world's population, without a single fatality.
Revival in Europe and U.S. 
A first demonstration at 200 km/h 
In Europe, high-speed rail began during the International Transport Fair in Munich in June 1965, when Dr Öpfering, the director of Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Federal Railways), performed 347 demonstrations at 200 km/h (125 mph) between Munich and Augsburg by DB Class 103 hauled trains.
The same year, in France, the engineer Jean Bertin created the Aérotrain, a hovercraft monorail train, and built the first prototype, supported by the French Land Settlement Commission (DATAR). The prototype reached 200 km/h within days of opening.
First at 200 km/h: Le Capitole 
After the success of the Japanese Shinkansen in 1964, at 210 km/h, the German demonstrations up to 200 km/h in 1965, and the proof-of-concept jet-powered Aérotrain, SNCF still ran its fastest trains at only 160 km/h.
In 1966, the new French Infrastructure Minister, Edgard Pisani, consulted engineers, and gave the French National Railways one year to raise speeds to 200 km/h. The classic line Paris–Toulouse was chosen, and fitted, to support 200 km/h rather than 140 km/h. Some improvements were set, notably the signals system, development of on board "in-cab" signalling system, and curve revision.
The next year, in May 1967, the first regular service in the world at 200 km/h by a classic train was inaugurated by the TEE Le Capitole between Paris and Toulouse, with specially adapted SNCF Class BB 9200 locomotives hauling classic UIC cars, and a full red livery.
At the same time, the Aérotrain prototype 02 reached 345 km/h on a half-scale experimental track. In 1969, it achieved 422 km/h on the same track. On 5 March 1974, the full-scale commercial prototype Aérotrain I80HV, jet powered, reached 430 km/h.
American Metroliner trains achieve 200km/h 
In the United States, immediately following the creation of Japan's first high-speed Shinkansen, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of his Great Society infrastructure building initiatives asked the U.S. Congress to devise a way to increase speeds on American railroads. The congress delivered the High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965 which passed with overwhelming bi-partisan support and helped to create regular Metroliner service between New York City and Washington, D.C.. The new service was inaugurated in 1969, at speeds reaching 200 km/h (120 mph) and averaging 145 km/h (90 mph) along the route, faster than even Acela Express trains operated between the cities of New York and Washington in 2012.
The HST: a diesel high-speed train at 200 km/h 
Great Britain followed Japan, France and U.S. in 1976 with the introduction by British Rail of a new high-speed service, able to reach 200 km/h (125 mph), hauled by the "InterCity 125" diesel-electric train sets, under the brand name of High Speed Train (HST). It was the fastest diesel-powered train in regular service in the world, and it outclassed its 100 mph (160 km/h) forerunners, in speed and acceleration.
Like the Shinkansen, and future TGV, the train was built as a reversible multi-car set, having driving power-cars at both ends, and a fixed formation of passenger cars between them. Journey times were reduced, sometimes by an hour on the East Coast Main Line, and passenger numbers soared.
Europe at 200 km/h 
The next year, in 1977, Germany finally introduced a new service at 200 km/h (125 mph), on the Munich-Augsburg line. That same year, Italy inaugurated the first European High-Speed line, the Direttissima between Roma and Florence, designed for 250 km/h, but used by FS E444 hauled train at 200 km/h (125 mph). This year also saw the abandonment for political reasons of the Aérotrain project, in favour of the TGV.
The French TGV 
Active research 
Following the 1955 records, two divisions of the SNCF began to study high speed services. In 1964, the DETMT (petrol-engine traction studies department of SNCF) planned the use of gas turbines : a diesel-powered railcar is modified with a gas-turbine, and is called "TGV" (Turbotrain Grande Vitesse). It reached 230 km/h in 1967, and served as a basis for the future Turbotrain and the real TGV.
In the same time, the new "SNCF Research Department", created in 1966, was studying some projects, especially a project code-named "C03": "Railways possibilities on new infrastructure (tracks)".
The gas-turbine 
In 1969, the "C03 project" is transferred to the public administration while a contract with Alsthom is ratified for the building of two gas-turbine high-speed train prototypes, that will be named "TGV 001".
The prototype consisted of an undividable set of 5 cars and 2 power-cars at both end, each power-car powered by two gas-turbine engine. The notable particularity of the set is the use of Jakobs bogies, shared by two cars, that reduce drag and increase safety.
The next year, in 1970, the DETMT's Turbotrain, gas-turbine powered multiple-elements, designed for 200 km/h but used at 160 km/h began operations on Paris-Cherbourg line. It allowed to experiment future TGV services, especially regular high rate schedules, shuttle services, etc.
The C03 Project 
In 1971, the "C03" project, now known as "TGV Sud-Est", is validated by the government, against the Bertin's Aerotrain. Until this date, there was a rivalry between the French Land Settlement Commission (DATAR), supporting the Aérotrain, and the SNCF and its ministry, supporting the conventional rail.
The "C03 project" projected the building a new High-Speed line between Paris and Lyon, with a new multi-powered-elements train running at 260 km/h.
Indeed, at that time, the classic Paris-Lyon line is already heavily saturated, a new line is required, and this very loaded corridor, not too short (where car is preferred) nor too long (where planes are better), is the best choice for the new service.
Turnaround: electricity 
The 1973 oil shock substantially increases oil prices. In the continuity of the De Gaulle "energy self-sufficiency" and Nuclear-energy policy, a ministry decision switched the future TGV from now costly gas-turbine to full electric energy in 1974. Because of this new orientation, an electric railcar is heavily tuned for testings at very high speeds. Named Zébulon, it reached 306 km/h, and, among other, allowed the creation of pantographs sustaining over 300 km/h.
The TGV: the first service above 250 km/h 
After intensive tests with the gas-turbine "TGV 001" prototype, and the electric "Zébulon", in 1977, the SNCF placed an order to the group Alsthom-Francorail-MTE for 87 TGV Sud-Est trainsets. This definitive train reuse the "TGV 001" concept, with an undividable set of 8 cars, sharing "Jakobs bogies", and hauled by 2 electric power-cars at each end.
In 1981, the first section of the new Paris-Lyon High-Speed line is inaugurated, with a 260 km/h top speed (then 270 km/h soon after).
A new step in high-speed rail 
The new service, following the great advance of the Shinkansen, is another step in High-Speed rail.
With a far greater top speed, a new totals dedicated high-speed line, and a complete compatibility with existing old network, the TGV offers the ability to join every city in the country, using alternatively standard and high-speed line, in a shorter time than ever.
After the introduction of the TGV on some routes, air traffic on these routes decreased, or even disappeared.
Equally, the TGV marked the history by its multiple very mediatised speed records : in 1981 with a record at 380 km/h, in 1990 at 515 km/h, and then in 2007 at 574 km/h.
Rise of high speed in Europe and the U.S. 
Following the French TGV, in 1991 Germany was the second country in the Europe to inaugurate a high-speed rail service, with the launch of the Intercity-Express (ICE) on the new Hannover-Würzburg high speed railway, operating at a top speed of 280 km/h. The German ICE train was a set like the TGV, with dedicated streamlined motor cars at both ends, and a variable number of trailers between them. Unlike the TGV, the trailers had classical two bogies per car, and could be de-coupled, allowing the train to be lengthened or shortened. This introduction was the result of ten years of study with the ICE-V prototype, which broke the world speed record in 1988, reaching 406 km/h.
In 1992, just in time for the Barcelona Olympic Game and Seville Expo '92 the Madrid–Seville high-speed rail line opened in Spain with 25 kV AC electrification, and standard gauge, opposed to all other Spanish tracks which used Iberian gauge tracks. This allowed the AVE rail service to begin operations using Class 100 train sets built by Alstom, directly derived in design from the French TGV trains. The service was very popular and development continued on high-speed rail in Spain.
In 2005, the Spanish Government announced an ambitious plan, (PEIT 2005–2020) envisioning that by 2020, 90 percent of the population would live within 50 km (30 mi) of a station served by AVE. Spain began building the largest HSR network in Europe: as of 2011 five of the new lines have opened (Madrid-Zaragoza-Lleida-Tarragona-Barcelona, Córdoba- Malaga, Madrid-Toledo, Madrid-Segovia-Valladolid, Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia) and another 2,219 km (1,380 mi) were under construction. As of December 2010, the Spanish AVE system is the longest HSR network in Europe and the second in the world, after China.
Despite the early leap towards high-speed rail with the High Speed Ground Transportation Act of 1965 and the Shinkansen-inspired Metroliner service between New York City and Washington, D.C. the U.S. later nationalized and abandoned most of the country's passenger service and in a political environment of neo-liberalism the U.S. Congress refused to fund development of high-speed rail.
In 1993, the U.S., taking note of the successes of high-speed rail in Europe, attempted to improve service between Boston and New York by electrifying the Northeast Corridor north of New Haven, Connecticut and purchasing new train sets to replace the now 30-year-old Metroliners and run on the newly electrified route. Some existing trains (Swedish X 2000 and German ICE 1) were tested, but finally, the Acela, a new tilting train manufactured by Alstom and Bombardier, was ordered.
The new service was named "Acela Express" and ran on the Northeast Corridor, linking Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington DC. The service was inaugurated in December 2000, and was an immediate success, operated at a profit and as of 2012[update], it produced about 25% of Amtrak's total service revenue. Unlike other high-speed rail, the Acela lacks a dedicated high-speed rail line, and runs on regular lines which limit its average speed, although it does reach a maximum speed of 240 km/h (149 mph) on a small section of its route through Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
High-speed rail development was said to be a goal of the Obama administration however no such projects have been started under his tenure as President and none will be completed by the time he leaves office in 2016. The largest project for American high-speed rail is the California High-Speed Rail network which had yet to break ground in February, 2013 despite being approved by tax payers in 2008 under the California Proposition 1A (2008).
In 2012, Amtrak's President proposed a plan to build one dedicated high-speed rail line between Washington D.C. and Boston. He estimated it would cost $151 billion and take more than 25 years to fully design and build the line. The proposed rail line would allow for top speeds of 220 mph (354 km/h).
The first high-speed disaster 
In 1998, after over thirty years of high speed rail operations in the world without fatal accidents, the Eschede disaster occurred: a poorly designed German ICE 1 wheel broke at 200 km/h near Eschede, resulting in the derailment and destruction of the full set of 16 cars and the subsequent death toll of 101 people.
Expansion in East Asia 
For four decades from its opening in 1964, the Japanese Shinkansen was the only high speed rail service outside of Europe. In the 2000s a number of new high speed rail services started operating in East Asia.
The South Korean KTX 
In South Korea, Korea Train Express (KTX) services were launched on 1 April 2004, on the Seoul-Busan corridor, Korea's busiest traffic corridor, between the two largest cities. In 1982, it represented 65.8% of South Korea's population, a number that grew to 73.3% by 1995, along with 70% of freight traffic and 66% of passenger traffic. With both the Gyeongbu Expressway and Korail's Gyeongbu Line congested as of the late 1970s, the government saw the pressing need for another form of transportation.
Construction began on the high-speed line from Seoul to Busan in 1992 with the first commercial service launching in 2004. Top speed for trains in regular service is currently 305 km/h (190 mph), though the infrastructure is designed for 350 km/h (217 mph). The initial rolling stock was based on Alstom's TGV Réseau, and was partly built in Korea. The domestically developed HSR-350x, which achieved 352.4 km/h (219.0 mph) in tests, resulted in a second type of high-speed trains now operated by Korail, the KTX Sancheon. The next generation KTX train, HEMU-430X, achieved 421.4 km/h (262 mph) in 2013, making South Korea the world's fourth country after France, Japan and China to develop a high-speed train running on conventional rail above 420 km/h (261 mph).
The Chinese CRH 
State planning for China high speed railway began in the early 1990s, and the country started construction of its first high speed rail line, the Qinhuangdao–Shenyang Passenger Railway, in 1999, which subsequently opened in 2003 with a design speed of 200 km/h.
The original goal of the Chinese Ministry of Railways (MOR) was to research and develop domestic technology to reach a world standard. The new high speed rail line was used to test several Chinese developed prototypes. Although they were successful at creating a train set that operated at 300 km/h, the trains performed poorly in regular service. Realizing that domestic high speed technology was not sufficiently developed, the MOR purchased high speed trains from French, German, and Japanese manufactures with technology transfers contracts to improve its ability to build high speed trains. In 2007 the first high speed service using foreign high speed trains, called China Railways Highspeed (CRH) or "和谐号" (lit. Harmony) was introduced.
In 2008, the China opened the "Wuhan – Guangzhou" high-speed line at 350 km/h, the first line at that speed. Until July 2011, when the maximum speed was lowered to 300 km/h, it was the fastest line in the world.
As of 2011[update], China has the world's longest high-speed rail network with 8,358 km of tracks. The network is still rapidly expanding to create the 4+4 National High Speed Rail Grid by 2015. On 25 December 2012, China opened the world's longest high-speed rail line, which runs 2,208 km (1,372 mi) from the country's capital Beijing in the north to Shenzhen on the southern coast.
On 26 December 2012, the world's longest high-speed line opened in China; the Beijing–Guangzhou–Shenzhen–Hong Kong High-Speed Railway at 2,298 kilometres (1,428 mi).
(Republic of China) Taiwan 
Taiwan High Speed Rail's first and only HSR line opened for service on 5 January 2007, using Japanese trains with a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph). The service runs 345 kilometres (214 mi) from Taipei Railway Station to Xinzuoying Station in as little as 96 minutes. Once THSR began operations, almost all passengers switched from airlines flying parallel routes while road traffic was also reduced.
The Wenzhou disaster 
On 23 July 2011, 12 years after the Eschede train disaster, a Chinese CRH2 traveling at 100 km/h collided with a CRH1 which was stopped on a viaduct in the suburbs of Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, China. The two trains derailed, and four cars fell off the viaduct. 40 people were killed, at least 192 were injured, 12 of which were severe injuries.
The disaster led to a number of changes in management and exploitation of high-speed rail in China. Despite the fact that high speed was not a factor in the accident, one of the major changes was the lowering by 50 km/h of all maximum speeds in China HST, 350 km/h becoming 300, 250 km/h becoming 200, and 200 km/h becoming 160.
Dedicated tracks 
As defined by Europe and UIC, generally the high-speed rail is a set including a high-speed rolling-stock and a dedicated high-speed line.
Japan was the first nation to build a totally new and dedicated lines and network for its Shinkansen. It was followed by France, then Germany, Spain, etc. Most countries today with high-speed rail have dedicated high-speed tracks. Notable exceptions are the USA and Russia.
In certain cases, in particular in England in the 1970s for the HST, and in China recently, classic old lines have been upgraded to support new high-speed trains, often up to 200 km/h. For unconventional trains, such as Aérotrains and Maglev, the use of viaduct-dedicated tracks is necessary.
Tracks design 
Continuous welded rail is generally used to reduce track vibrations and misalignment. Almost all high-speed lines are electrically driven via overhead cables, have in-cab signalling, and use advanced switches using very low entry and frog angles.
Constrictions, such as at-grade crossings, where lines intersect other lines and/or roadways are eliminated. For this reason, Japan and China typically build their high-speed lines on elevated viaducts, allowing high-speed with safety and lower cost.
High-speed lines also avoid sharp curves, which reduce the speed limit. Curve radius is typically above 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi), and for lines capable of 350 km/h (217 mph) running, typically at 7 to 9 kilometres (4.3 to 5.6 mi).
The lines may rest on traditional sleeper and ballast (such as French high-speed lines and derived), or on concrete tiles (such as German and Chinese high-speed lines).
To avoid any obstacles, trees are cut back in a large area away from the railway line, and fences prevent animal or human walking across the tracks.
Road-rail parallel layout 
Track gauge 
Most common for HSR track is 1435 mm standard gauge.
Track sharing 
High-speed lines may be exclusive or open to standard speed trains.
- In France, high-speed lines use standard gauge like the rest of the network, but are used only by passenger TGV, and by the Postal TGV.
- In Germany, high-speed lines are shared between ICE, international high speed trains, regional trains and freight trains.
- In China, high-speed lines at speeds between 200 and 250 km/h (124 and 155 mph) may carry freight or passengers., Lines operating at speeds of 300 km/h (186 mph) are used only by passenger CRH trains.
- In Japan, high-speed Shinkansen lines use standard gauge track rather than Cape gauge track used on most other Japanese lines, then the Shinkansen is fully and physically dedicated.
- In Spain, high-speed lines use standard gauge, while most of the network uses Iberian gauge, then such as in Japan, the High-speed network is only used by high speed trains.
Construction costs 
Japanese systems are often more expensive than their counterparts, because they run on dedicated elevated guideways, avoid traffic crossings and incorporate disaster monitoring systems. The largest part of Japan's cost is for boring tunnels through mountains, as was also true in Taiwan.
In France, the cost of construction (which was €10 million/km (US$15.1 million/km) for LGV Est) is minimized by adopting steeper grades rather than building tunnels and viaducts. However, in mountainous Switzerland, tunnels are inevitable. Because the lines are dedicated to passengers, gradients of 3.5%, rather than the previous maximum of 1–1.5% for mixed traffic, are used. More expensive land may be required in order to minimize curves. This increases speed, reduces construction costs and lowers operating and maintenance costs. In other countries high-speed rail was built without those economies so that the railway can also support other traffic, such as freight.
Experience has shown however, that running trains of significantly different speeds on one line substantially decreases capacity. As a result, mixed-traffic lines usually reserve daytime for high-speed trains and run freight at night. In some cases, night-time high-speed trains are diverted to lower speed lines in favour of freight traffic.
Rolling stock 
|This section requires expansion. (January 2013)|
Multiple world-speed-record holder, the French TGV family
The German ICE 3 high-speed electric multiple unit
The Chinese CRH380A, recently developed for very high speeds
Taiwan's Japanese-built 300 km/h operating, 315 km/h capable during test run 700T series train
The Korean developed KTX Sancheon, which can accelerate to over 350 km/h, operating commercially at 305 km/h.
A westbound Turkish High speed train waiting at Ankara station.
Train engineering 
Comparison with other modes of transport 
HSR, like any transport system, is not inherently convenient, fast, clean, or comfortable. All of this depends on design, implementation, maintenance, operation and funding. Operational smoothness is often more indicative of organizational discipline than technological prowess.
Existing infrastructure constrains the growth of the highway and air travel systems. When other modes cannot expand, HSR may possibly provide a feasible alternative. For example, a double-decked E4 Series Shinkansen can carry 1,634 seated passengers, double the capacity of an Airbus A380 (world's largest passenger plane) in economy class, and more if standing passengers are allowed. HSR systems are more environmentally friendly than air or road travel, given their higher fuel efficiency per passenger-kilometer and reduced land use.
The initial impetus for the introduction of high speed rail was the need for additional capacity to meet increasing demand for passenger rail travel. Urban density and mass transit have been key factors in the success of European and Japanese railway transport, especially in countries such as Japan, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and France.
Optimal distance 
While commercial high-speed trains have lower maximum speeds than jet aircraft, they offer shorter total trip times than air travel for short distances. They typically connect city centre rail stations to each other, while air transport connects airports that are typically farther from city centres.
High-speed rail (HSR) is best suited for journeys of 2 to 3 hours (about 250–900 km or 160–560 mi), for which the train can beat air and car trip time. For trips under about 650 km (400 mi), the process of checking in and going through airport security, as well as traveling to and from the airport, makes the total air journey time equal to or slower than HSR. European authorities treat HSR as competitive with passenger air for HSR trips under 4½ hours.
HSR eliminated most air transport from between Paris-Brussels, Cologne-Frankfurt, Nanjing-Wuhan, Chongqing-Chengdu, Tokyo-Nagoya, Tokyo-Sendai and Tokyo-Niigata. China Southern Airlines, China's largest airline, expects the construction of China's high speed railway network to impact[clarification needed] 25% of its route network in the coming years.
European data indicate that air traffic is more sensitive than road traffic (car and bus) to competition from HSR, at least on journeys of 400 km and more – perhaps because cars and buses are far more flexible than planes. TGV Sud-Est reduced the travel time Paris–Lyon from almost four to about two hours. Market share rose from 49 to 72%. Air and road market shares shrunk from 31 to 7% and from 29 to 21%, respectively. On the Madrid–Sevilla link, the AVE connection increased share from 16 to 52%; air traffic shrunk from 40 to 13%; road traffic from 44 to 36%, hence the rail market amounted to 80% of combined rail and air traffic. This figure increased to 89% in 2009, according to Spanish rail operator RENFE.
According to Peter Jorritsma, the rail market share s, as compared to planes, can be computed approximately as a function of the travelling time in minutes t by the formula
According to this formula, a journey time of three hours yields 65% market share. However, market shares are also influenced by ticket prices. Some air carriers regained market shares by slashing prices.
In the US Northeast Corridor, the rail market share at 47% between New York and Washington is lower than the formula indicates, even though the journey time is only about 2h 45min.
Energy efficiency 
Travel by rail is more competitive in areas of higher population density or where gasoline is expensive, because conventional trains are more fuel-efficient than cars when ridership is high, similar to other forms of mass transit. Very few high-speed trains consume diesel or other fossil fuels but the power stations that provide electric trains with power can consume fossil fuels. In Japan and France, with very extensive high speed rail networks, a large proportion of electricity comes from nuclear power. On the Eurostar, which primarily runs off the French grid, emissions from travelling by train from London to Paris are 90% lower than by flying. Even using electricity generated from coal or oil, high speed trains are significantly more fuel-efficient per passenger per kilometer traveled than the typical automobile because of economies of scale in generator technology. Rail networks, like highways, require large fixed capital investments and thus require a blend of high density and government investment to be competitive against existing capital infrastructure.
Automobile and buses 
High-speed rail can accommodate more passengers at far higher speeds than automobiles.
Generally, the longer the journey, the better the time advantage of rail over road if going to the same destination. However, high-speed rail can be competitive with cars on shorter distances, 50–150 kilometres (30–90 mi), for example for commuting, given road congestion or expensive parking fees.
Moreover, typical passenger rail carries 2.83 times as many passengers per hour per meter (width) as a road. A typical capacity is the Eurostar, which runs 15 trains per hour[dubious ] and 800 passengers per train, totaling 12,000 passengers per hour in each direction. By contrast, the Highway Capacity Manual gives a maximum capacity of 2,250 passenger cars per hour per lane, excluding other vehicles. Assuming an average vehicle occupancy of 1.57 people. A standard twin track railway has a typical capacity 13% greater than a 6-lane highway (3 lanes each way), while requiring only 40% of the land (1.0/3.0 versus 2.5/7.5 hectares per kilometer of direct/indirect land consumption). The Tokaido Shinkansen line in Japan, has a much higher ratio (with as many as 20,000 passengers per hour per direction). Similarly commuter roads tend to carry fewer than 1.57 persons per vehicle (Washington State Department of Transportation, for instance, uses 1.2 persons per vehicle) during commute times.
Advantages over air travel 
Although air transit has higher speeds of travel, users must include additional time for check-in, baggage handling, security, boarding, and taxiing. Furthermore, rail stations are typically closer to urban centers than airports (except for city-center airports like Reagan National Airport and London City Airport). When considering both processing and travel time to airport, the speed advantage of air travel for mid-distance trips becomes significantly offset.
Rail travel also has less weather dependency than air travel. If the rail system is well-designed and well-operated, severe weather conditions such as heavy snow, heavy fog, and storms do not affect the journeys; flights generally face cancellations or delays under such conditions. Nevertheless, snow, wind and flooding can delay trains.
High-speed trains also have comfort advantages. For example, train passengers can move freely about the train at any point in the journey. The seats are also less subject to weight restrictions than planes, and as such tend to have more padding and legroom. Furthermore, technology advances such as continuously welded rail have minimized vibration and jerking found on slower railways. Air travel, in contrast, can face turbulence if adverse wind conditions arise.
Another advantage trains have is the ability to accommodate multiple itineraries on single trains. While some trains are nonstop, the flexibility added with intermediate stops would dramatically increase air travel times relative to HSR.
Maximum speed 
The world speed record for conventional high-speed rail is held by the V150, a specially configured and heavily modified version of Alstom's TGV, which clocked 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) on a test run. The world speed record for Maglev is held by the Japanese experimental MLX01: 581 km/h (361 mph).
There are several definitions of "maximum speed" :
- The maximum speed at which a train is allowed to run by law or policy in daily service (MOR)
- The maximum speed at which an unmodified train is proved to be capable of running.
- The maximum speed a specially modified train is proved to be capable of running.
Maximum speed and operated speed 
It appears there is often discordance between claimed maximum speed and real operated speed. For example, the German ICE 3 is authorized for 330 km/h, while there is no high-speed line at this speed in Germany, nor in Europe (the ICE 3 runs at 320 km/h on French high-speed lines).
Indeed, the maximum speed is often limited by the high-speed line, safety, environmental factors such as noise, and cost considerations, rather than by the performances of the rolling stock.
There is also a commercial aspect : currently, manufacturers announce very high maximum speed that are never used. So, in China, many trains are theoretically authorized at 350 km/h and even 380 km/h, but run at only 300 km/h. The last Alstom AGV and Bombardier Zefiro are also announced for 360 and 380 km/h, but will only run at 300 km/h.
Absolute speed record 
The speeds reached by TGV and Maglev are not necessarily suitable for passenger operations as there are concerns such as noise, costs, deceleration time in an emergency, wear and tear, etc.
Conventional rail 
Since the 1955 record, France has nearly continuously held the absolute world speed record. The latest record is held by a SNCF TGV POS trainset, which reached 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) in 2007, on the newly constructed LGV Est high-speed line. This run was for proof of concept and engineering, not to test normal passenger service.
Unlike the unconventional records, the TGV records have been made by heavily tuned trains, modified from commercial service trains.
Unconventional rail 
Speed record for experimental unconventional passenger train was set by the manned "magnetic-levitation" train JR-Maglev MLX01 at 581 km/h (361 mph) in 2003.
Maximum speed in service 
Conventional rail 
The fastest operating conventional trains are the French TGV POS, German ICE 3 and Japanese E5 Series Shinkansen with a commercial maximum speed of 320 km/h (199 mph), the former two on some French high-speed lines, and the last on a part of Tohoku shinkansen line.
In Spain, on the Madrid–Barcelona HSL, maximum speed is 310 km/h.
Since July 2011, in China, the maximum speed is officially 300 km/h, but a 10 km/h tolerance is accepted, and trains often reach 310 km/h.
Before that, from August 2008 to July 2011, China Railway High-speed trains hold the highest commercial operating speed record with 350 km/h (217 mph) on some lines (Beijing–Tianjin Intercity Railway, Wuhan–Guangzhou High-Speed Railway). Due to high costs and safety concerns the top speeds in China were reduced to 300 km/h (186 mph) on 1 July 2011.
Unconventional rail 
The Shanghai Maglev Train reaches 431 km/h (268 mph) during its daily service on its 30 km (19 mi) dedicated line, holding the speed record for commercial train service.
Major markets 
The early target areas, identified by France, Japan, Spain, and the U.S., were between pairs of large cities. In France, this was Paris–Lyon, in Japan, Tokyo–Osaka, in Spain, Madrid–Seville (then Barcelona). In European countries, South Korea and Japan, dense networks of city subways and railways provide connections with high speed rail lines.
China has the largest network of high-speed railways in the world.
In Japan intra-city rail daily usage per capita is the highest, with cumulative ridership of 6 billion passengers exceeds the French TGV of 1 billion (as of 2003), the only other system to reach a billion passenger trips. By comparison, the world's fleet of 22,685 aircraft carried 2.1 billion passengers in 2006, according to International Civil Aviation Organization.
South Korea 
Since its opening in 2004, KTX has transferred over 360 million passengers until April 2013, accounting to one South Korean using it seven times. For any transportation involving travel above 300 km (186 mi), the KTX secured a market share of 57% over other modes of transport, which is by far the largest.
Other target areas include freight lines, such as the Trans-Siberian Railway in Russia, which would allow 3 day Far East to Europe service for freight, potentially fitting in between the months by ship and hours by air.
The Quebec-Windsor corridor
This corridor actually has the population density of the Rhone Valley in France and it would be justified to have vHST (300 km/h) or TGV.
Interesting enough to note that Canada is the first to introduce HST on its Montreal-Toronto corridor back in 1968 with the United Aircraft Corp (UAC) Turbo-Train. Most of the train was constructed by Montreal Light Works (MLW) in Montreal with its ST6 gas turbine engines adapted from the very famous and reliable PT6 also built in Montreal by UAC. The train has been designed for 200 km/h (124 mph) operations but reached 283 km/h (176 mph) on test runs. The train made also use of Jakobs bogies (Talgo trains reintroduced them in 1955) and featured the first tilting mechanisms to enter service in the world with a passive four-bar unit. They did run for more than 10 years at speeds limited to 150 km/h (93 mph) (90 mph) because of the very poor track quality. The speed limitations came from the fact that the locomotive did not allow for tilting. http://www.highspeedrailcanada.com/p/uac-cn-turbo-train-archives.html
In 1981, the company MLW (later to be purchased by Bombardier) introduced the LRC (Leger, Rapide et Comfortable), the fastest diesel driven HSTs in service, and these were in operation until 1998. They featured an active tilting system which was based on accelerometers and this system is actually the one installed on the modern Bombardier trains and coaches such as the Super Voyagers. They did operate at speeds up to 200 km/h (124 mph) between Montreal and Toronto reducing travel time to 4h10 minutes including stops at several stations in-between the two city centers. http://www.freewebs.com/rail/vialrc.htm
Inspired by Alshtom TGV-001, Bombardier has designed the Jet-Train to be the fastest gas turbine train cruising at 300 km/h (186 mph). It was showcased to Amtrack and VIA rail without success. The super HST project has been defended by many citizens' movements over the last 20 years. in the 70s, Montreal's mayor Jean Drapeau even advocated the application of the French TGV to link Montreal to New-York city at first and then Boston and Toronto afterwards. This project could put Montreal at the center of the North vHST (300 km/h) network and have incredible economic impacts. But sad to say, the Canadian Federal Government has did everything they could to block the project.
Very recently, the Trens-Quebec company is now offering a very high speed monorail to reach 250 km/h (155 mph) between Montreal and Quebec City at just the tenth of the vHST costs per km of lines or double the cost of highway km. This system features the advantage that it can be put on highways very simply, enter city centers, cross actual bridges and is not affected by snowstorms or moose crossings. http://www.trensquebec.qc.ca/
The Vancouver-Seattle link
These two cities could benefit from an vHST (300 km/h) line since the two cities have enough population to justify such a project. Later on, an slower HST link could link Seattle to Portland and San Francisco.
The Albertan axis
Between Edmonton and Calgary, the Provincial government has investigated the application of an HST line at around 200 km/h (124 mph) with Pendolino technology.
Most recently the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has highlighted as one of the most probable areas for the development of high speed rail in Latin America with the Transpeninsular Fast Train for bidding in September 2011.
United States 
The claim is that in the US, HSR is incompatible with the existing automobile-oriented system. (People will want to drive when traveling in city, so they might as well drive the entire trip.) However, others contend that in the Northeast Corridor, many people living beyond walking distance of a connection drive to the commuter station and ride to the HSR connection, similar to the way many people drive to an airport, park their cars and then fly. Car rentals and taxis also supplement local mass transportation. Increased commercial development is also projected near the destination stations.
Chicago, with its central location and metropolitan population of approximately 10 million, was envisioned as the hub of a national high-speed rail network. The beginning Midwest phases study a Minneapolis-Milwaukee-Chicago-Detroit link; a Kansas City-St Louis-Chicago link; and a Chicago-Indianapolis-Cincinnati-Columbus, OH link.
The California High-Speed Rail Authority is currently planning lines from the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento to Los Angeles and Anaheim via the Central Valley, as well as a line from Los Angeles to San Diego via the Inland Empire.
The Texas High Speed Rail and Transportation Corporation is lobbying for a high-speed rail and multimodal transportation corridor, dubbed the Texas T-Bone. The T-Bone would link Dallas and San Antonio via the South Central Corridor; from roughly the midpoint between these two cities, the Brazos Express corridor would provide a connection to Houston.
Florida officials considered and in 2011 rejected a Tampa-Orlando-Miami system.
Market segmentation has principally focused on the business travel market. The French original focus on business travelers is reflected by the early design of the TGV trains. Pleasure travel was a secondary market; now many of the French extensions connect with vacation beaches on the Atlantic and Mediterranean, as well as major amusement parks and also the ski resorts in France and Switzerland. Friday evenings are the peak time for TGVs (train à grande vitesse). The system lowered prices on long distance travel to compete more effectively with air services, and as a result some cities within an hour of Paris by TGV have become commuter communities, increasing the market while restructuring land use.
On the Paris – Lyon service, the number of passengers grew sufficiently to justify the introduction of double-decker coaches.
Later high-speed rail lines, such as the LGV Atlantique, the LGV Est, and most high-speed lines in France, were designed as feeder routes branching into conventional rail lines, serving a larger number of medium-sized cities.
Germany's first high-speed lines ran north-south, for historical reasons, and later developed east-west after German unification.
Although Italy was among the first countries in the world to develop technologies for HSR, the governments which succeeded during last 60 years did not gave much relevance to high speed network projects, considered too costly, developing the famous Pendolino technology to run at medium-high speed (to 250 km/h) on conventional lines. The only exception was the Direttissima between Florence and Rome, but it was not conceived to be part of a high speed line on large scale.
It was only during the 80s and the 90s that projects for a dedicated high speed rail network were developed, and in 2010 1000 kilometers of high speed rail were fully operational. Frecciarossa services are operated with ETR 500 non-tilting trains at 25kVAC, 50 Hz power. The operational speed of the service is of 300 km/h. ETR1000 trainsets are currently under construction and were developed by the consortium formed by AnsaldoBreda and Bombardier. Based on the Bombardier Zefiro trainset, it will operate up to 360 km/h on the existing high speed rail system.
Although the recent enter into service, over 100 million passengers choose Frecciarossa services from the enter into service and the first months of 2012. Italian high speed services is recording satisfying profits, pushing Trenitalia to plan major investments and to cease a large part of local and regional services to other operators ( like Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori and Trenord) and concentrate money and efforts on high-speed and long-distance services (also through the medium-speed Frecciargento, Frecciabianca and InterCity services, which run on conventional lines).
High speed north-south freight lines in Switzerland are under construction, avoiding slow mountainous truck traffic, and lowering labour costs.
The Turkish State Railways started building high-speed rail lines in 2003. The first section of the line, between Ankara and Eskişehir, was inaugurated on March 13, 2009. It is a part of the 533 km Istanbul to Ankara high-speed rail line. A subsidiary of Turkish State Railways, Yüksek Hızlı Tren is the sole commercial operator of high speed trains in Turkey.
The construction of three separate high-speed lines from Ankara to Istanbul, Konya and Sivas, as well as taking an Ankara–Izmir line to the launch stage, form part of the Turkish Ministry of Transport's strategic aims and targets. Turkey plans to construct a network of high-speed lines in the early part of the 21st century, targeting a 1500 km network of high-speed lines by 2013 and a 10000 km network by the year 2023.
The Marmaray project, which consists of a rail transport network around Istanbul and the world's deepest immersed tube railway tunnel under the Bosphorus strait, is also under construction. The Marmaray tunnel will connect the subway and railway lines on the European and Asian parts of Istanbul and Turkey, respectively.
Records in trial runs 
Legend : [Official World Speed record] - [unconventional train] - [New entrant in HST]
|1955||France||BB 9004||331 km/h (206 mph)||First record over 300 km/h.|
|1963||Japan||Shinkansen||256 km/h (159 mph)||First country to develop HSR technology|
|1967||France||TGV 001||318 km/h (198 mph)||Second country to develop HSR technology.
Current record for gas-turbine powered train.
|1972||Japan||Shinkansen||286 km/h (178 mph)|
|1974||France||Aérotrain||430.2 km/h (267.3 mph)||High speed monorail hovercraft train|
|1975||Soviet Union||ER200||210 km/h (130 mph)||High speed EMU|
|1978||Japan||HSST-01||307.8 km/h (191.3 mph)||Auxiliary rocket propulsion|
|1978||Japan||HSST-02||110 km/h (68 mph)|
|1979||Japan||Shinkansen||319 km/h (198 mph)|
|1981||France||TGV||380 km/h (240 mph)|
|1985||West Germany||InterCityExperimental||324 km/h (201 mph)||Third country to develop HSR technology|
|1987||Japan||MLU001 (manned)||400.8 km/h (249.0 mph)||Magnetic levitation train|
|1988||West Germany||InterCityExperimental||406 km/h (252 mph)|
|1988||Italy||ETR 500-X||319 km/h (198 mph)||Fourth country to develop HSR technology|
|1988||West Germany||TR-06||412.6 km/h (256.4 mph)|
|1989||West Germany||TR-07||436 km/h (271 mph)|
|1990||France||TGV||515.3 km/h (320.2 mph)|
|1992||Japan||Shinkansen||350 km/h (220 mph)|
|1993||Japan||Shinkansen||425 km/h (264 mph)|
|1993||Germany||TR-07||450 km/h (280 mph)||Magnetic levitation train|
|1994||Japan||MLU002N||431 km/h (268 mph)||Magnetic levitation train|
|1996||Japan||Shinkansen 300X||443 km/h (275 mph)|
|1999||Japan||MLX01||552 km/h (343 mph)||Magnetic levitation train|
|2002||Spain||AVE S-102 (Talgo 350)||362 km/h (225 mph)||Fifth country to develop HSR technology|
|2002||China||China Star||321 km/h (199 mph)||Sixth country to develop HSR technology|
|2003||China||Siemens Transrapid 08||501 km/h (311 mph)|
|2003||Japan||MLX01||581 km/h (361 mph)||Current world record holder for unconventional train|
|2004||South Korea||HSR-350x||352.4 km/h (219.0 mph)||Seventh country to develop HSR technology|
|2006||Spain||AVE S-103 (Siemens Velaro)||404 km/h (251 mph)||Unmodified commercial trainset|
|2007||France||V150||574.8 km/h (357.2 mph)||Current world record holder on conventional rails.|
|2007||Taiwan||700T series train||350 km/h (220 mph)|
|2009||Italy||ETR 500-Y1||362 km/h (225 mph)||"Indoor" world speed record, set in the 9.1 km (6 mi) Monte Bibele tunnel on the then new Bologna-Florence high-speed line|
|2010||China||CRH380AL||486.1 km/h (302.0 mph)||Claimed as world record holder for unmodified commercial trainset|
|2011||China||CRH380BL||487.3 km/h (302.8 mph)||Modified commercial trainset|
|2013||South Korea||HEMU-430X||421.4 km/h (261.8 mph)|
Speed - Record : Official World Speed Record (for wheeled conventional train).
Speed - Operated : Maximum operated speed at that date (for wheeled conventional train).
World speed record Rise of maximum commercial speed High-speed related disaster
|1804||UK||8 km/h||-||The world's first railway steam locomotive runs at 8 km/h (5.0 mph).|
|1830||UK||45 km/h||-||Stephenson's Rocket, first modern locomotive, reaches 45 km/h (28 mph).|
|1895||UK||108 km/h||-||Average speed of 108 km/h (67 mph) between Crewe and Carlisle, by the LNWR Improved Precedent Class|
|1903||Germany||210 km/h||-||An electric multiple unit "AEG Drehstrom-Triebwagen" prototype reaches 210.2 km/h (130.6 mph) during an experimental test trip.|
|1931||Germany||230 km/h||-||The propeller-propelled "Schienenzeppelin" reaches 230.2 km/h (143.0 mph) on the Berlin - Hamburg line during a test.|
|1933||Germany||-||160 km/h||The conventional train diesel-powered "Fliegender Hamburger" establishes the fastest regular service in the world, reaching 160 km/h (99 mph) during its journey, between Berlin and Hamburg.|
|1937||Italy||-||160 km/h||The electric multiple unit "ETR 200" designed for 200 km/h, begin its commercial service at 160 km/h between Bologna and Naples (Top speed 203 km/h - Record average speed over long distance)|
|1954||France||243 km/h||160 km/h||Conventional wheeled absolute world speed record : the unmodified "Alstom CC 7121" hauling a complete train, reach 243 km/h (151 mph) between Dijon and Beaune.|
|1955||France||331 km/h||160 km/h||Conventional wheeled absolute world speed record : the "BB 9004" prototype pulling 3 cars reach 331 km/h (206 mph) on the Dax - Bordeaux classic line.|
|1959||Japan||-||160 km/h||Beginning of the construction work of the Shinkansen Tōkaidō first part, between Tōkyō and Ōsaka.|
|1964||Japan||-||210 km/h||Inauguration of the Shinkansen Tōkaidō high speed line, for the beginning of Tōkyō's Olympics, with a top speed of 210 km/h (130 mph).|
|1965||France||-||210 km/h||The first unconventional hovertrain "Aérotrain" prototype is built.|
|1965||Germany||-||210 km/h||During the International Transport Fair in Munich, a train hauled by a "DB Class 103" makes a demonstration trip at 200 km/h (120 mph) between Munich and Augsburg.|
|1967||France||-||210 km/h||Launch of the first commercial service at 200 km/h (120 mph) by a standard train hauled by the SNCF "BB 9200", on the Paris-Toulouse national line.|
|1969||France||-||210 km/h||The Aerotrain 02 prototype reaches 422 km/h on its experimental track.|
|1969||Italy||-||210 km/h||The construction work of the first European high-speed line, the Direttissima, begins between Roma and Florence.|
|1971||Germany||-||210 km/h||One of the first maglev trains, the Transrapid 02, reach 164 km/h (102 mph).|
|1971||France||-||210 km/h||The first TGV 001 prototype is built, powered by two airplane gas turbines, and runs up to 318 km/h (198 mph).|
|1973||-||210 km/h||Oil shock, with increasing oil prices. This will be a key for future electric high-speed rail.|
|1973||UK||-||210 km/h||The unconventional hovercraft "RTV 31" prototype, reaches 167 km/h (104 mph) on a 1-mile experimental track.|
|1974||France||-||210 km/h||The jet powered Aérotrain I80 HV prototype holds the world speed record for unconventional trains, with a top speed of 430.2 km/h (267.3 mph) during a test trip.|
|1977||Italy||-||210 km/h||Inauguration of the first European high-speed line, the "Florence–Rome" HSL "Direttissima", designed of 250 km/h (160 mph) and ready to use at 220 km/h (140 mph)|
|1977||Germany||-||210 km/h||Raising of the speed to 200 km/h (120 mph) in Germany, on the Munich-Augsburg line.|
|1979||Japan||-||210 km/h||The experimental unconventional maglev train "JR-Maglev ML-500R" reach 517 km/h (321 mph) on Miyazaki Maglev Test Track.|
|1981||France||380 km/h||210 km/h||Absolute world speed record record for a "TGV PSE" on the new "LGV Sud-Est" high-speed line, at380 km/h (240 mph)|
|1981||France||-||260 km/h||Inauguration of the "LGV Paris-Sud-Est" high-speed line between Paris and Lyon, with a top speed of 260 km/h (160 mph).|
|1982||France||-||270 km/h||Raising of maximum speed of "LGV Sud-Est" to 270 km/h (170 mph).|
|1984||Japan||-||270 km/h||Raising of maximum speed of Shinkansen to 230 km/h (140 mph) for "100 serie".|
|1988||Germany||406 km/h||270 km/h||Absolute world speed record Record for the DB "ICE-V" prototype reaching 406.9 km/h (252.8 mph) on the new "Hanover – Würtzburg" high-speed line.|
|1989||Italy||-||270 km/h||Introduction of the Pendolino in commercial service between Rome and Milan, reaching 250 km/h (160 mph).|
|1989||Japan||-||270 km/h||Raising of maximum speed of Shinkansen to 270 km/h (170 mph) for "300 serie".|
|1989||France||-||300 km/h||Inauguration of the "LGV Atlantique" high-speed line, first line at 300 km/h (190 mph) in the world.|
|1990||France||515 km/h||300 km/h||Absolute world speed record by a tuned "TGV Atlantique", with a top speed of 515.3 km/h (320.2 mph) on the new "LGV Atlantique"|
|1991||Germany||-||300 km/h||Inauguration of the first German high-speed service, the Intercity-Express on the Hanover-Würtzburg HSL, with a top speed of 280 km/h (170 mph).|
|1992||South Korea||-||300 km/h||Construction begins on the first South Korean high-speed line, the KTX on the Seoul-Busan HSR designed for a maximum speed of 350 km/h (220 mph).|
|1994||-||300 km/h||Inauguration of the Channel Tunnel, between UK and France, and used by Eurostar TGV.|
|1994||Spain||-||300 km/h||The AVE high-speed rail service begins operation at 300 km/h (190 mph) on the new Madrid–Seville high-speed line.|
|1995||Japan||-||300 km/h||Raising of maximum speed of the Shinkansen to 300 km/h (190 mph) for the "500 serie".|
|1998||Germany||-||300 km/h||Eschede train disaster|
|2000||USA||-||300 km/h||The first high-speed rail service in USA, the Acela Express begins its operation between Boston, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., reaching 240 km/h (150 mph)|
|2003||Japan||-||300 km/h||The experimental unconventional maglev "JR-Maglev MLX01" sets an absolute world speed record at 581 km/h (361 mph).|
|2004||China||-||300 km/h||Inauguration of the first commercial maglev line, the Shanghai Maglev Train.|
|2006||Germany||-||300 km/h||Lathen train collision when a Transrapid maglev train collided with a maintenance vehicle|
|2007||France||574 km/h||300 km/h||Absolute world speed record by a tuned "TGV POS", with a top speed of 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) on the new "LGV Est" high-speed line|
|2007||France||-||320 km/h||Inauguration of the "LGV Est" high-speed line, first line at 320 km/h (200 mph)|
|2008||South Korea||-||320 km/h||Raising of maximum commercial speed of the KTX to 305 km/h (190 mph) from 300 km/h (190 mph).|
|2009||China||-||350 km/h||Opening of the "Wuhan – Guangzhou" high speed line, first line at 350 km/h (220 mph)|
|2011||China||-||320 km/h||Wenzhou disaster, lowering to 300 km/h (190 mph) of maximum speed in China.|
|2012||China||-||320 km/h||Opening of the longest high-speed line, from Beijing to Guangzhou, with 2298 kilometers (1,428 miles)|
|2013||Japan||-||320 km/h||Raising of maximum speed of the Shinkansen to 320 km/h (200 mph) for the "E5 series".|
See also 
- Ground effect train
- High-speed rail by country
- Land speed record for railed vehicles
- Magnetic levitation train
- Tilting train
- Planned high-speed rail by country
- Passenger rail terminology
- List of high speed train technologies
- List of high-speed trains
Notes and references 
- "General definitions of highspeed". International Union of Railways. Retrieved 13 May 2009.
- "US Code Title 49 § 26105 –Definitions". US Code Title 49. 1 February 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2011. "reasonably expected to reach sustained speeds of more than 125 miles per hour"
- "Vision for High-speed rail in America" (PDF). Federal Railroad Administration. p. 2. Retrieved 5 February 2010.
- "Development of High Speed Rail in the United States: Issues and Recent Events". Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 10 October 2012.
- Official Guide of the Railways, 1910: The Official Guide of the Railways and Steam Navigation Lines of the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, and Cuba, Rand McNally & Company Publishing, 1910, http://cprr.org/Museum/Books/I_ACCEPT_the_User_Agreement/Official_Rail_Guide_1910.pdf
- Sith Sastrasinh, "Electrical Train Marienfelde–Zossen in 1901", 21 January 2000, WorldRailFans. Accessed 23 January 2013.
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Further reading 
- Hood, Christopher P. (2006). Shinkansen – From Bullet Train to Symbol of Modern Japan. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-32052-6.
- Cornolò, Giovanni (1990). Una leggenda che corre: breve storia dell'elettrotreno e dei suoi primati; ETR.200 – ETR.220 – ETR 240. Salò: ETR. ISBN 88-85068-23-5.
- de Rus, Gines (2011). "vol 2, issue 1". In Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis. The BCA of HSR: Should the Government Invest in High Speed Rail Infrastructure?. Berkeley Press, http://ideas.repec.org/a/bpj/jbcacn/v2y2011i1n2.html.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: High-speed rail|
- US High Speed Rail Association official site
- Transrapid – Maglev: High-Speed in Asia (China, Shanghai), Japan (Yamanashi) and Germany (Munich; TVE)
- UIC: High Speed Rail
- Tips for rail travel travel guide from Wikivoyage