How Fast Can A Train Go? Now That is Fast!

How fast can a train go you ask? Passenger trains can hit speeds of up to 267 mp/h globally and up to 150mp/h in the U.S. Although, remember the average speed can and does differ greatly from the top speed.

how fast can a train go

It’s remarkable to think that trains have been around for so long and yet they remain widely in use. A big part of that has to do with the train’s ability to transport a large number of passengers, their reliability & their efficiency that’s not all. We also love their speed…but how fast can a train go?

People appreciate the fact that trains can get them where they need to be in a short amount of time, safely, efficiently & without wasting time at an airport.

Of course, there are delays that affect the speed, we all know that, whether it is from the snow/weather or other train traffic, sadly delays are common, but let’s get back onto the speed subject….

How Fast Can Trains Go in the United States?

Speed is crucial to the appeal of train travel. Because of that, being curious about how fast they can go is also a natural reaction.

Unsurprisingly, train speeds vary depending on where in the world you’re traveling. If you’re focusing only on trains inside the United States, then you need to head northeast.

The Amtrak Acela Express which operates between New York and Washington, D.C.  is the fastest train in the United States. The aforementioned train can reach a top speed of 150 miles per hour while going through certain portions of its route.

We noted that the Acela Express only hits that top speed for portions of its journey and it goes significantly slower than that most of the time. Either way, I love this train & always have enjoyed my Acela journeys.

How Fast Can a Train Go Around The World?

The Amtrak Acela Express is fast, but the reality is that many other trains can easily surpass it. You can find those trains by heading to other parts of the world.

Consider heading to China if you want to experience firsthand just how fast trains can move. To experience that, you must visit Shanghai and book a ticket on one of their trains.

The Shanghai Maglev train can reach an astonishing top speed of 268 miles per hour. That nearly doubles the top speed of the Amtrak Acela Express we were just discussing earlier.

Given that more than 28 million people live in Shanghai, it makes sense for them to have one of the more impressive trains in use today.

The presence of the Shanghai Maglev makes commuting faster and more convenient for a huge chunk of the city’s population. The Shangai Maglev also gives commuters an easy way to head back and forth from the city center to the Pudong Airport.

China also has two other trains to add to the top of the list too, I will add them to the table below

Europe is also famous for having high-speed trains. For instance, Germany has the ICE3 and it connects Frankfurt and Cologne.

The ICE3 is not fast as the Shanghai Maglev, but it is no slouch by any means. It is capable of reaching a top speed of 268mph or 431.3km/hr miles per hour over the course of its journey. Traveling at that speed is one way to make commutes significantly more pleasant and manageable, not to mention fun too!

Morocco is also home to one of the world’s fastest trains. Connecting the cities of Casablanca and Tangier is the high-speed train known as the Al-Boraq.

The Al-Boraq can reach a maximum speed of 186mph or 300kmph It’s slightly slower than the other trains we’ve discussed, but it still reduces travel times significantly.

Let’s do a comparison and see how fast can a train go, be prepared there are some seriously fast trains below… let’s see how our own Amtrak Acela sits on the world wide stage.

NAMECOUNTRYMANUFACTURERMAX SPEEDMAX SPEEDRANKING
Shanghai MaglevChinaSiemens/Thyssenkrup267 mph431 km/h1st
Fuxing Hao CR400/AF/BFChinaCRRC Qingdao249 mph400 km/h2nd
Harmony CRH 380AChinaCSR Corporation Ltd236 mph380 km/h3rd
Talgo 350SpainTalgo/Bombardier225mph363km/h4th
AGV ItaloItalyAlstom224 mph360km/h5th
ETR 500 FrecciarossaItalyTREno Veloce Italiano334 mph360km/h6th (tie)
Siemens Velaro E/AVS 103SpainSiemens217 mph350km/h6th (tie)
Deutshe Bahn ICE 3GermanySiemens Bombardier205 mph330km/h7th
Shinkansen E5, H5 SeriesJapanHitachi/Kawasaki Industries200 mph320 km/h8th (draw)
SNCF TGVFranceAlstom200 mph320 km/h8th (draw)
EurostarUKAlstom/Bombardier186 mph300km/h9th
Amtrak ACELAU.SAlstom/Bombardier150 mph241 kh/h10th

What Is the Average Speed of a Passenger Train?

It’s fun to learn about the top speeds of trains, but those numbers represent how those vehicles perform at their full capacity. As we all know, trains won’t remain at their speeds throughout their journeys.

Practically speaking, it may be more helpful for you to learn about the average speed of trains. That way, you have a better idea of what to expect during your upcoming ride.

Going back to the Amtrak Acela Express, the average speed for that train is around 65 to 70 miles per hour. Unsurprisingly, the Amtrak Acela Express is an outlier in terms of average speed for trains that operate inside the United States.

fast train

Many of the passenger trains that you can ride in the United States are way slower than the Acela Express. They tend to operate in the range of 30 to 50 miles per hour. Those trains still move pretty fast, but there is a noticeable drop-off from the Acela Express.

How Are Some Trains Able to Travel So Fast?

When comparing the fastest train in the United States to the fastest trains in other parts of the world, it’s impossible not to wonder why there is such a huge discrepancy. You’ve probably guessed that it goes way beyond the railroad conductor.

A good railroad conductor can affect how well a train performs, but they aren’t unlocking any hidden features. The truth is that technology is the factor that makes the biggest difference.

For example, the Shanghai Maglev is a great example of how advanced technology can unlock the full potential of train travel. The aforementioned trains rely on magnetic levitation to move along specially designed tracks.

Trains that rely on magnetic levitation aren’t slowed down by friction. The absence of friction is a huge factor in allowing those trains to travel as fast as they do.

Even though not all of the trains that we highlighted in this article utilize magnetic levitation, they can still travel at high speeds because of how well-designed they are.

How Can Trains Inside The United States Become Faster?

Currently, trains inside the United States are lagging behind many of their international counterparts in terms of speed. That doesn’t have to be the case moving forward. However this subject is been an ongoing debate, for years.

train station

Adopting new technology will allow trains operating inside the country to rival the top speeds of their counterparts in other parts of the world. Improving the current design of trains can also help them move faster.

Light trains as well as those that can tilt when dealing with curves are capable of traveling at higher speeds. Designers should also consider lowering the center of gravity of their trains so they can move even better. Simply improving railways can also help with unlocking higher speeds.

How Fast Can A Train Go – Conclusion

At the moment, the fastest trains are found outside of the United States. However, if the current investment in trains is increased, you won’t have to go out of the country to find out how fast can a train go!

It is an ongoing debate in the U.S whether or not to spend money on high speed rail networks, you know my answer here! In the meantime, if you hear a train honk at the station, remember to look up! 🙂

For know we will have to accept that the Amtrak ACELA is our fastest train, let’s see what the future holds.

Safe Travelling!