Trains with twice the speed of Vande Bharat: Where to board them?

The Shanghai Maglev is the fastest train in the world. Photo: iStock/Yongyuan Dai

The Vande Bharat Express stands as a milestone in India’s railway history. The trains are whizzing across the country, marking a new era of speed. Known as Train 18, the Vande Bharat Express is India's first fully electric semi-high-speed train. Capable of reaching speeds between 180 kmph and 200 kmph, it currently ranks among the fastest trains in India. However, there are trains in other countries that operate at twice the speed of the Vande Bharat. Let us explore some of the trains synonymous with high-tech and luxury.

Shanghai Maglev: 460 kmph (China)
The Shanghai Maglev train, also known as Shanghai Transrapid, achieves a speed of 460 kmph and has set a record of 501 kmph. It is the fastest train in the world. This remarkable speed is possible because the train levitates above the track, propelled by an electromagnetic system that faces minimal friction. Manufactured as a joint venture by Siemens and the German multinational company Thyssen Krupp, the train is owned by the Shanghai Maglev Transportation Development Company. Launched in April 2004, it operates on the 30.5-km-long Shanghai Maglev line, covering the 19-mile distance from Shanghai Longyang Road Station to Shanghai International Airport in mere 8 minutes.

CR Fuxing: 350 kmph (China)
Fuxing trains, owned by the Chinese government, operate at a speed of 350 kmph. These models are the first high-speed trains developed entirely indigenously by the China Railway Corporation. Accommodating over 500 passengers, the Fuxing train is 209 meters long, 3.36 meters wide, and 4.06 meters high. The Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway utilizes Fuxing trains to transport passengers between these two metropolises in five hours. Fuxing trains operate also on seven other rail lines in China.

DB ICE: 350 kmph (Germany)
Intercity Express 3, also known as ICE 3, consists of high-speed electric multiple units. Manufactured jointly by Siemens and Bombardier, these trains are primarily used by Deutsche Bahn (DB) in Germany and the Dutch Railway. The trains operate at a maximum speed of 320 kmph in Germany. The Velaro train rakes, used in various countries such as Germany, Belgium, France, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, China, Russia, and Turkey, drew inspiration from the ICE 3M/F models.

SCNCF TGV: 320 kmph (France)
The "A Grande Vitesse," also known as TGV, operates on Europe's first high-speed railway line and is a symbol of France. Manufactured by Alstom, the train boasts different models such as TGV Duplex, Reseau, POS, and Euro Duplex. The train connects France with other countries such as Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany through an extensive rail network. TGV trains also operate in the US, Spain, Italy, Morocco, China, and South Korea. While the TGV Lyria serves Switzerland, Thalys/Eurostar connects the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium.

JR Shinkansen: 320 kmph (Japan)
Shinkansen, globally known as the bullet train, has been renowned for a long time. Japan was the first country to develop a dedicated railway network for such high-speed trains, with the initial aim of connecting distant places to Tokyo. The 515-km line laid in 1964 for operating the Tokyo-Nagoya-Osaka-Tokaido Shinkansen train has now expanded to over 3,000 km. The first generation of Shinkansen trains had a maximum speed of 220 kmph, but the present series, E5 and H5 trains manufactured by Hitachi Rail and Kawasaki Heavy Industries operate at a maximum speed of 320 kmph.

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