• Highest Speed

  • General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by LIRR04
Which train is the fastest in the world?

  by DutchRailnut
steel wheels on steel rail its the TGV atlantiq at 515 kmph.

  by timz
Are you asking fastest in regular passenger-carrying service, or fastest special run?

  by someone
this was a special test run to make a world record.

the TGV is usually running at 270 - 300 km/h in pax service.

  by MBTA F40PH-2C 1050
how much is that in mph?

  by Wdobner
515km/h is around 321mph

270km/h is about 168mph

300km/h is just about 186mph.

Next time, you may either want to multiply by 0.6, or go to http://www.onlineconversion.com/speed_common.htm

Of course the Transrapid Maglev in Shanghai has a design speed of 500km/h, and regularly does 430km/h in service. The Japanese MLX01 is the fastest train on earth, has achieved a maximum speed of 550km/h in testing.

  by Irish Chieftain
As far as fastest commercial top speed on steel rails, the Madrid-Barcelona AVE line (Spain) is supposed to have a top speed of 350 km/h (220 mph) for its trains, which are planned to be a mix of ICE III and Talgo 350 IIRC. A few new Shinkansen lines in Japan (the name means "new trunk line", not "bullet train" which is dangan ressa) are also to have the 350 km/h top speed...

  by hsr_fan
Irish Chieftain wrote:As far as fastest commercial top speed on steel rails, the Madrid-Barcelona AVE line (Spain) is supposed to have a top speed of 350 km/h (220 mph) for its trains, which are planned to be a mix of ICE III and Talgo 350 IIRC. A few new Shinkansen lines in Japan (the name means "new trunk line", not "bullet train" which is dangan ressa) are also to have the 350 km/h top speed...
Yep...217 mph to be more exact. (1 mph = 1.6093 kph) I'm not sure if Spain has opened the new 350 km/hr route yet.
  by orulz
As far as AVERAGE speed from one stop to another in revenue service, the fastest I've heard of is the westbound Nozomi 501 from Hiroshima to Kokura. It leaves Hiroshima at 8:20am, accellerates, travels 213.5km along the Sanyo Shinkansen, decelerates, and arrives at Kokura at 9:04am, an average speed over the entire trip of 291.1km/h (180.9mi/h). The completely dedicated, completely high speed infrastructure of the Shinkansen really helps, particularly in this segment since there are no speed restrictions at all once the train clears Hiroshima station. The engineer can basically keep it floored from end to end - and the speed limit on this segment of track is 320km/h. I also read somewhere that they're considering upping the limits to 350km/h here, too.

Now, someone needs to find a segment of track somewhere that's faster and prove me wrong!

  by Nasadowsk
Actually, I don't think the engineer does much. IIRC, all Shinkansen lines are pretty much automated, the engineer is more there for monitoring and ther purposes, than actually driving the train. FWIW, that average speed would put Albany about 45 minutes from NYC. But would require all new ROW. But, I doubt a 100mph average would be out of the realm on existing track with some realignment - and that'd make it about a 1:45 trip, still pretty fast...

Come on - high acceleration, 110mph between stops. It's not THAT hard.

  by orulz
This is getting a bit off subject, but...

I was in Japan for a year a little while ago, and I spent a couple nights at internet cafes - $10 a night for a private booth with all the movies you can watch, all the comics you can read, and all the PS2 games you can play. You can also drink all the soda/coffee/tea/juice/slurpee that you want - one of very few great bargains on anything to be found in that the most expensive country in the world.

Back on the subject, at one place I went to, they had a shinkansen simulator game. I'd imagine that they were trying to make it as realistic as possible. In the game, the in cab signal showing the speed limit on that segment of track would alert you when a speed limit change was coming up. At that point, you could use use your experience and knowledge of the track from having run it several times before to make the process of decelleration as smooth as possible (which gives you higher points). Say, for example, your train is lightly loaded, or there's a tailwind so you accellerate more quickly than usual - to the point that you know you're 60 seconds ahead of schedule. In that case, you might choose to start decellerating sooner and slow down more gradually to make the ride smoother, or to approach the platform more slowly which makes it easier to stop on the mark, etc, etc. If real life is anything like that game, which I suspect to be the case, then the ATC system is only there to prevent the engineer from making any significant errors. The system does not run flawlessly without human intervention.

Which brings me back to real life. While I was there, I heard a story on the news that a shinkansen engineer fell asleep at the wheel. His train actually managed to stop at the station, but rather than the customary pinpoint precision (never off by more than a meter or so), the train went about 90 meters long so the passengers with seats in the forwardmost three coaches had to board from behind and walk forwards. Said engineer was promptly fired. But anyway, that's just more proof that the system does not operate entirely without human intervention. The automatic controls are a fallback mechanism, which a skilled engineer should not have to rely upon.

  by Irish Chieftain
orulz wrote:It leaves Hiroshima at 8:20am, accelerates, travels 213.5km along the Sanyo Shinkansen, decelerates, and arrives at Kokura at 9:04am, an average speed over the entire trip of 291.1km/h (180.9mi/h)
You are claiming that this train makes a journey of 133 miles in 45 minutes. Kinda helps to have no stops in between. (BTW, that is equivalent to going from Manhattan to somewhere like Scranton PA in about 40 minutes.)

  by orulz
I can't tell whether you're doubting my information or just making an observation, but I guess I'll go ahead and prove it anyway.

You're right, having no intermediate stops helps a lot. Out of the 75 daily Shinkansen trips from Hiroshima to Kokura, 11 of them are non-stop. Out of those 11, only the 8:20am departure is operated with a 500-class train, which is lighter and faster than the 700-class, and makes the trip in 44 minutes. The 10 other non-stop trains are 700-class, which take an almost unbearably slow 47 minutes to cover the distance.

It's in Japanese, but here is the timetable for the shinkansen from Hiroshima to Kokura. The 8:20 departure is highlighted in red.

Here's a screenshot from the JR web page showing more detail about that particular schedule:

  by timz
Tell us more about this line. Looks like there's a train that takes 89 minutes for the same run? So there are lots of stops, for other trains? Is the line two-track? Nonstop trains run thru stations at full speed?

You've ridden it? They actually do it in 44 minutes? Any idea how long to accelerate to top speed?

  by orulz
It's kind of funny; when you think of Shinkansen, you think of the Tokaido Shinkansen, which runs from Tokyo to Osaka, but it turns out that since the Tokaido is the oldest line (first opened in 1964!) it's also the slowest. The segment I'm talking about is part of the Sanyo Shinkansen, which runs between Osaka and Hakata/Fukuoka. The segment in question, which opened for business in 1975, includes a trip through the 18km long Shinkanmon tunnel between the main island Honshu and the western island Kyushu.

* * *

There are four basic services on the Sanyo Shinkansen: Kodama, Hikari, Hikari Rail Star, and Nozomi.

Nozomi are the super limited express shinkansen trains, stopping in cities of 1 million people or more. The trains are long (16 cars), new, clean, popular, and tend to be crowded. If you ride with an unreserved seat at rush hour, expect to stand for the first part of your ride.

Hikari and Hikari Rail Star are the middle ground. They make less than half as many stops as Kodama does, but they do stop at every significant metro area along the way. A "Hikari" is a train that runs on both the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen; the "Hikari Rail Star" runs only to the west of Osaka, on the Sanyo Shinkansen.

The Kodama trains are the "locals." They make every stop on the line and tend to dwell for ~10 minutes or so at smaller stations while they wait for another train on a faster schedule to pass by. They are also generally run with older, steel frame, 6-car equipment, so in spite of the fact that they stop more often, they take longer to get back up to speed. The train that takes 89 minutes to go from Hiroshima to Kokura is a Kodama. Kodamas never make Tokyo -> Hakata runs from end to end, since that would take far too long. Instead, they run on smaller segments of the route, connecting with the faster trains to provide continuing service to stations not served by the more limited trains.

Between Tokyo and Osaka, Nozomis make up about 60% of the traffic on the Sanyo line, with the Hikari and Kodama comprising 20% each. However, on the Hiroshima -> Kokura run, the traffic is almost evenly balanced: 33% Nozomi, 33% Hikari, and 33% Kodama. Something that foreign tourists should take note of, is that the "all you can ride" Japan Rail Pass does not work on the Nozomi, so you miss out on the very fastest of the fast. Oh well.

* * *

Of course, there are heaps of conventional trains as well. There's the Local (futsuu), Rapid (kaisoku) and Super Rapid (shin-kaisoku) which all charge the base fare. Locals make every stop, while the Rapids and Super Rapids skip the smaller stations. These trains always have commuter-like accomodations. Then there are Express (Kyuukou) and Limited Express (Tokkyuu) trains, which bear the most resemblance to Amtrak in this country. Most sleeper trains in Japan are classified as Express or Limited Express. They sometimes have lounges, or at least vending machines or airline-style foodservice. The Express trains are more expensive, and you generally don't find any express service except for sleeper trains in areas served by the Shinkansen.

Nearly all service (including the shinkansen) is run with EMUs or DMUs. I prefer the US in that respect, since older MUs can be extremely noisy. Conventional lines in Japan are on a 1067mm narrow gauge, but the Shinkansen is standard, 1435mm gauge track. The trains themselves are wider than most standard-gauge equipment, and comfortably seat 5 people abreast with an aisle wide enough to fit large suitcases (there is no checked baggage on the Shinkansen.)

* * *

While I was in Hiroshima, I did ride the shinkansen through Kokura on two occasions, although I've never had the opportunity to make the 44 minute run. While the Hikari and Kodama both cost the same, the Nozomi is a little more expensive. Needless to say, I took the Hikari both times, and I continued on to the end of the line in Hakata both times as well. Even the Hikari sometimes makes only one stop on the way, in Yamaguchi or Tokuyama - other than that, it just goes. And boy does it go! It probably takes about 5 minutes to get up to top speed. The gearing is different, so it's 0-100kph time is way slower than the local trains on the conventional lines, but it just keeps going. The train spends perhaps 90% of its route either on an elevated viaduct or in a tunnel, so the view is frequently obstructed, but you can still see a lot of stuff go whizzing by really fast. The ride is extremely smooth, although there is definitely a sense of motion. It's kind of disorienting when you travel through the comfort spiral before a curve - the same sort of dizzy feeling you get when an airplane is banking into a turn.

You can bet just about anything that if the shinkansen schedule says it takes 44 minutes, it takes 44 minutes to make the trip. Barring some sort of equipment failure (so rare it makes the national news when it happens) you WILL arrive within 1 minute of the schedule, with a slightly early arrival being the rule. Arriving even 1 minute late is considered absolutely unacceptable, because trains sometimes run on 3 minute headways, and even the slightest delay would cause a ripple effect through the entire system. You'd think that with a schedule this packed, the system would fall apart regularly but it doesn't. If you're watching the seconds tick by on a cell phone that synchronizes its clock from the tower, a departure scheduled at 8:20am departs at 8:20:00am.

It's a truly amazing system, dare I say it unmatched even in Europe, but you pay for it. Even with the enormous economies of scale, a four hour trip with a reserved seat from Hiroshima to Tokyo can cost you nearly $200. If you don't have a reserved seat, you'll can get stuck standing for at least part of your journey at rush hour - and remember, most of these trains seat more than 1300.