High speed trains become more and more popular nowadays.
They almost become the best solution for passenger transportation with their fast and easy-to-use service for the route they’re running. Shares of them in all modes reaches to 90% in some routes.
Although there are some variations, in general the trains with 200 km/h on existing lines and 250 km/h on special tracks are accepted as high speed train.
Shinkansen was the first high speed train put in operation commercially. It started service between Tokyo and Osaka in 1964 with a speed of 250 km/h.
Since then high speed trains spreaded to all over the world and 11 other countries were added to list of “high speed train operators”.
Below are the countries operating high speed trains:
Germany’s ICE (Intercity Express) trains are mainly running on existing lines. Commercial speed is between 250-300 km/h.
ICE trains are carrying 70-80 million passangers annually.
Acela Express is the only high speed train service in USA, linking Boston to Washington, with speed upto 240 km/h by the trains produced by Alstom and Bombardier. The private operator Amtrak is giving this service. This profitable service provided 25% of Amtrak’s total revenue in 2012.
China has word’s longest high speed rail network with over 10000 km by end of 2012.
Annual HSR ridership is highest in the world. In 2012, 486 million passangers use high speed trains of China.
First high speed trains of China was imported or build under licence of Bombardier, Siemens and Kawasaki. Now China is producing its own high speed trains.
France’s high speed trains (TGV) developed in 1970s by Alstom and SNCF, and been a commercial success since then
TGV’s are carrying about 100 million passangers annually, and in 2003 carried 1 billionth passanger.
Korea Train eXpress (KTX) is South Korea’s high-speed rail system. Top speed for trains is currently 305 km/h. Avg daily ridership is about 100,000 passangers, and service becomes the Korail’s most profitable branch.
There are 4 main lines in UK, which can hardly reach to high speed of 201 km/h, just over the international lower limit for existing lines (200 km/h). There’s also a separate high speed line of 108 km, Channel Tunnel Rail Link.
Alta Velocidad Española (AVE) is the service of high speed rail in Spain operated by Renfe Operadora, the Spanish national railway company, at speeds of up to 310 km/h.
Spanish AVE system is the longest high speed rail network in Europe with 3100 km and the second in the world after China.
There are two main high speed lines in Italy connecting almost all major cities. 25 million passangers carried in 2011.NTV (Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori) is the first European private high speed train operator, started operations in 2012.
The Shinkansen is the network of high-speed railway lines in Japan. Starting in 1964, the network has expanded to currently consist of 2,387 km of lines with maximum speeds of 240–320 km/h.
Annual ridership in Shinkansen trains is 300 million in average. Cumulative ridership exceeds 10 billion passangers since 1964.
Sapsan trains in Russia are running with a max speed of 250 km/h, using existing lines between Moscow and St Petersburg. Siemens Velaro sets are being used in this line.
Taiwan high speed rail network is 345 km, operated by a private company, based on Shinkansen technology and carried 44,5 million passangers in 2012.
In Turkey, the first high speed rail line is opened in 2009 using 11 CAF sets. Annual ridership reached over 3 million since then.
TCDD (Turkish National Railway Operator) has an aggressive plan of reaching to 10,000 km of high speed rail network in 2023, and buying/producing more than 100 sets first 7 of which is decided to be Siemens Velaro.
Cover Photo: Jeff Hawken ©