Photo: Wikimedia Commons
California is slowly advancing toward its goal of building a $69 billion high-speed rail network connecting San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.Despite an ongoing legal battle and some tremendous engineering challenges, construction is set to begin next summer.
Until the project is complete, American rail travellers will have to settle for Acela trains, which hit 150 mph.
While impressive compared to highway speeds, that’s nothing next to what real high speed rail can do. Among the fastest in the world, these trains regularly top 200 mph and even crack above the 300 mph mark.
Travis Okulski contributed to this story.
11. Belgium's HSL-1 has been in service since 1997. The 186 mph top speed means it takes less than 90 minutes to get from Paris to Brussels.
8. The Spanish AVE Talgo-350 is this first on the list to break the 200 mph barrier. Its 205 mph top speed makes trips from Madrid to Barcelona go by in the blink of an eye.
6. South Korea's KTX 2 may carry only 360 passengers, but the 219 mph top speed means they get to their destination incredibly quickly.
5. France's TGV Réseau 236 mph capability matches IndyCar speeds. However, normal running is limited to 199 mph.
4. Shangai's magnetic levitation (maglev) train floats above its track thanks to powerful magnets. It covers an 18-mile trip from downtown to the airport in just 8 minutes, hitting 270 mph.
2. Germany's Transrapid TR-09 uses mag-lev technology and is technically a monorail. However, the 279 mph top speed also makes it the second fastest train on the planet.
1. The top dog in the world of fast trains is China, which broke the 300 mph barrier with the CRH380A. The 302 mph top speed makes this the fastest legal way to travel by land.
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