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What is the fastest train?

Read on to learn how fast the world's fastest train travels.

The fastest train can reach speeds of up to 300 mph. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
The fastest train can reach speeds of up to 300 mph.

The world's fastest train is France's TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse or train of great speed) with a top speed of 186 miles (299 kilometers) per hour and an average speed of 132 miles (212.5 kilometers) per hour. However, the TGV will soon be outdistanced by the MAGLEV (magnetic levitation) trains of Japan and Germany, which can travel between 250 to 300 miles (402 to 483 kilometers) per hour.

Fastest Train Floats

Magnetic Levitation trains run on a bed of air produced from the repulsion or attraction of powerful magnetic fields (based on the principle that like poles of magnets repel and unlike poles-north and south-attract).

The German Transrapid uses conventional magnets to levitate the train. The principle of attraction in magnetism, the employment of wing-like flaps extending under the train to fold under a T-shaped guideway, and the use of electromagnets on board (that are attracted to the non-energized magnetic surface) are the guiding components. Interaction between the train's electromagnets and those built on top of the T-shaped track lift the vehicle 3/8 inch (1 centimeter) off the guideway. Another set of magnets along the rail sides provides lateral guidance. The train rides on electromagnetic waves. Alternating current in the magnet sets in the guideway changes their polarity to alternately push and pull the train along. Braking is done by reversing the direction of the magnetic field (caused by reversing the magnetic poles). To increase train speed, the frequency of current is raised.

The Japanese MLV002 uses the same propulsion system, the difference is in the levitation design in which the train rests on wheels until it reaches a speed of 100 miles (161 kilometers) per hour. Then it levitates 4 inches (10 centimeters) above the guideway. The levitation depends on superconducting magnets and a repulsion system (rather than the attraction system that the German system uses).

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