Which is The Fastest Train?

A train is a series of carriages pulled along a track by a locomotive engine. The top speed record-holder is a Japanese maglev (magnetic levitation) train, which reached 581 kph (361 mph) in 2008. When not setting records, trains provide an efficient means of transporting people and goods across land.

Types of train

electric train

Get their power from an overhead pick-up or an electrically live third rail.

steam train

Powered by steam generated by burning coal.

diesel powered train

Powered by diesel-fuelled internal combustion engine.

Maglev (magnetic levitation) train

Maglev (magnetic levitation)
Electromagnets create magnetic fields providing an air cushion for the train to ride friction free.

subway train

Train running through underground tunnels.

Funicular railway

Tram-like vehicle that ascends or descends a steep slope.


British rail pioneer George Stephenson’s engine Rocket was worthy of its name – it won an 1829 competition to find the world’s fastest locomotive, reaching 56 kph (35 mph).

Longest rail networks

USA218,783 km (135,945 miles)
China131,000 km (81,399 miles)
Russia85,500 km (53,127 miles)
India68,525 km (42,579 miles)
Canada49,452 km (30,728 miles)
Brazil38,743 km (24,073 miles)
Germany38,594 km (23,981 miles)
Argentina36,917 km (22,939 miles)
Australia33,168 km (20,609 miles)
France29,273 km (18,189 miles)

In numbers

The number of cars on the world’s longest freight train. It stretched for 6.4 km (4 miles) and ran on a track in Ohio, USA, in 1967.

The number of stations on the Trans-Siberian railway, which stretches 9,300 km (5,778 miles) from Moscow to Vladivostock.

1,370,782 km
(851,764 miles) The combined length of railway track in the world.

Subway systems

citystationspassengers (per year)
New York4721680.1 million
Shanghai3453880.06 million
Seoul3312836.5 million
Beijing3263950.87 million
Paris3021559.5 million
Madrid302657.2 million


The world’s deepest railway is in the Seikan tunnel between the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. It teaches 240 m (787 ft) below sea-level in the middle.

Five amazing trains

  1. Possibly the most famous train ever, the Orient Express was introduced in 1883, running between London, Paris, Vienna, Budapest, and Istanbul. Today the train only runs from Strasbourg to Vienna.
  2. Introduced in 1939, the Blue Train runs along 1,600 km (1,000 miles) of rail track between Pretoria and Cape Town in South Africa. It is one of the most luxurious trains in the world. Its carriages have gold-tinted windows and many of its compartments have full-sized baths!
  3. From 1902 to 1967, the 20th Century Limited was an American express train running between New York City and Chicago. The train covered the 1,550-km (960-mile) journey in about 16 hours.
  4. Since 1970, the Indian Pacific has covered the 4,352 km (2,704 miles) between Perth and Sydney, Australia, twice each week.
  5. The Flying Scotsman has been running between London, England, and Edinburgh, Scotland, since 1862. The original journey took 10.5 hours, but today it takes about 4.5 hours.

Blasts from the past

British inventor Richard Trevithick builds the world’s first steam railway locomotive.

The first passenger train service is set up, running 40 km (26 miles) between Stockton and Darlington in the north of England pulled by a locomotive built by George Stephenson.

The first cities to be linked by railway are Liverpool and Manchester in England. They are 64 km (40 miles) apart.

The first underground railway opens in London. It runs 6 km (3.75 miles) between Paddington and Farringdon Street.

A railway crossing the United States is completed, cutting a six-month wagon journey to just seven days on a train.

The first electric railway to supply power through the rails is a miniature locomotive demonstrated by German Ernst Werner von Siemens at an exhibition in Berlin.

Diesel locomotives are developed in Germany. Over the next two decades they replace steam trains.

The Japanese Shinkansen (bullet train) is introduced. These electric trains can reach speeds of 300 kph (187 mph).

The first maglev train is installed in Birmingham, England. This short-distance, low-speed train shuttles people between the airport and the city railway station.

The first high-speed maglev railway open in Shanghai China, with speeds up to 501 kph (311 mph).

Images: YouTube, Flickr